Policy News from the Administration

HAC Urges Census Bureau to Expand Data Offerings

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) has submitted comments to the U.S. Census Bureau’s New 2020 Census Data Product Planning Crosswalk. 

HAC urges the U.S. Census Bureau to provide sub-county geographies in all elements of the new Data Product Planning Crosswalk, as well as all public-use data products it produces. Political and economic geography is an important consideration when determining the population and residential patterns of an area. The county is a commonly used unit of geography. In many rural areas, the county is often identified within political, social, and economic contexts.  However, county-based designations are not the optimum criteria on which to assess or research social, economic and housing conditions.

The Housing Assistance Council is pleased to have this opportunity to provide comments to the U.S. Census Bureau on its new 2020 Census Data Product Planning Crosswalk. HAC looks forward to working with the Census Bureau to continually improve the provision of data for all communities – urban, suburban, and rural.

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HAC in the News

Successful Farming – Rural America, Mostly White, is Becoming More Diverse

Successful Farming highlighted research from HAC and the Brookings Institute focused on diversity in rural America.

Three-quarters of rural Americans are white, a larger proportion than the roughly six in 10 for the nation overall, but the rural population is becoming more diverse, said a pair of analyses of Census data. The rural America of the future will be increasingly diverse and not as politically conservative as many assume, said the Brookings Institution…

“The overall rural population between 2010 and 2020 would have declined substantially if not for growth in its Hispanic population,” three researchers from the Housing Assistance Council said in the Daily Yonder. Hispanics make up 10.4% of the rural population and Blacks make up 7.4%. People of two or more races make up 4% of the rural population, and Native Americans are 2%, twice the national rate.

The Housing Assistance Council researchers said, “Despite advances made through the civil rights movement, labor struggles, and increased self-determination, the experiences and conditions of non-white rural residents and communities are often overlooked given their relatively small populations.”

The United States is Becoming More Racially Diverse – And So is Rural America

Race and ethnicity are central and often complex components of our national identity, history, and struggles. Racial dynamics also manifest themselves in our geographies and communities. Rural communities across the United States are comprised of many races, ethnicities, and cultural histories that have been essential to the story of the nation. Contrary to the long-standing narrative of racial and ethnic homogeny across rural America, many racial and ethnic groups are represented in rural communities.

Using the Census Bureau’s recently released P.L. 94-171 Redistricting data, the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) presents an initial review of characteristics, trends, and issues related to race and ethnicity in rural America.

Rural America Now Has More Than 5 Million Reported Cases and Over 100,000 Deaths from Covid-19

Rural America Now Has More Than 5 Million Reported Cases and Over 100,000 Deaths from Covid-19

COVID-19 in Rural America – September 1, 2021

As of August 31, there have been more than 5.6 million reported cases of COVID-19, and approximately 101,741 associated deaths in communities outside metropolitan areas. Between August 1 and August 31, communities outside of metropolitan areas reported nearly 700,000 new cases of COVID-19 – a 291 percent increase over the previous 30-day period. There were 5,122 reported deaths associated with COVID-19 in rural communities in August, which represented a 254 percent increase in deaths from July 2021. Communities outside of metropolitan areas accounted for over 19 percent of all COVID deaths and 16 percent of new cases in August. The dramatic increase in rural cases and deaths mimics national trends related to the ascendancy of the more contagious delta variant.

Population Growth in Rural America was Small – and Uneven – Between 2010 and 2020

A Census in Rural America 2020 Update

Using Census 2010 and 2020 data, combined with methodology from the Housing Assistance Council’s Rural and Small-Town definition of location, HAC estimates that the rural population only increased by approximately 164,000 residents over the last decade. This population growth accounted for a .3 percent increase in the rural and small-town population. Overall, HAC estimates that approximately 60,551,165 people live in rural communities using the latest Census data.

Stats of USDA Rural Housing Obligations as of the End of April FY 2021

HAC’s Presentation of USDA Housing Activity Data Explained

Since 1996, HAC has produced a report on the housing activity (monthly loan and grant obligations) of the US Department of Agriculture Rural Development (USDA). So, what is HAC’s presentation of USDA obligations? And why have we been making it for the last three decades?

In short, HAC’s report tracks how much of each program’s allocation USDA Rural Development is actually using. These “obligations” are funds which have been committed to specific purposes within a program1.

By tracking these obligations, HAC provides a picture of which USDA programs are being used to their fullest. HAC also tracks which states the funds are being obligated in, letting us see where the money is going. These reports help on-the-ground partners keep track of resources USDA is investing in their states.

HAC’s obligation report is the only one of its kind. We tabulate, format, and publish the information as a service to our partners, peers, and everyone interested in how USDA’s rural development programs are coming along. Every month, we calculate the total obligations made year to date through that month. At the end of each fiscal year, HAC also produces a detailed report for the entire year, including charts, maps, income levels of program recipients, and historical trends.

In the last seven decades, USDA Rural Development has invested over $300 billion in communities around the country. Understanding how these funds are used and which communities receive them is vital to being able to leverage those programs to their fullest effect.

For more information about HAC’s USDA data and reports please visit our web page for USDA data:  USDA Information and Data – Housing Assistance Council (ruralhome.org)