USDA Obligations FY 2021 Featured Image

USDA Rural Development Obligations FY 21 – August

USDA Rural Development Obligations Report Cover - FY 2021

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) presents this month’s report on Fiscal Year 2021 USDA Rural Housing program obligations.

As of the end of August, USDA obligated 127,867 loans, loan guarantees, and grants totaling about $22 billion. This is $417 million above obligation levels from this time last year. At that time, there were 134,422 loans, loan guarantees, and grants obligated totaling $21.6 billion.

Federal agencies operated under a series of short-term continuing resolutions (CR) for most of the first quarter of FY 2021. A final CR was signed into law on December 27, 2020 which provides funding for the remainder of the fiscal year. Since March 20, 2020, USDA offices have been operating from remote locations due to the COVID-19 virus.

Single Family Housing Program Highlights

The Section 502 Guaranteed loan program, the largest of the Single Family Housing programs, obligated $20.9 billion (117,579 loan guarantees) up from this time last year’s nearly $20.3 billion (121,671 loan guarantees).

For the Section 502 Direct program, loan obligations totaled $935 million (5,004 loans), a bit less than last year’s obligation level of $990 million (5,738 loans.) About 37 percent of the loan dollars went to Very Low-income (VLI) applicants. VLI loans represented nearly 44 percent of the total number of Section 502 Direct loans.

The Section 504 Repair and Rehabilitation programs obligated 1,961 loans representing $12.4 million. Loan volume was below this time last year (2,376 loans representing $14.4 million.) There were also about $21 million (3,189 grants) obligated in the Section 504 grant program compared to $27.7 million (4,248 grants) last year.

USDA’s Section 523 Self Help Housing Grant program funded 36 grants and contracts totaling over $24.9 million compared to last year’s 35 grants and contracts totaling $29.3 million.

Multi-Family Housing Program Highlights

USDA’s Section 538 Multifamily Housing program obligated 64 loan guarantees totaling $153.8 million compared to last year’s 136 loan guarantees ($216.9 million.) One Section 515 Rural Rental Housing loan has been funded so far this year compared to 29 loans representing $31.7 million last year. In the MPR program, no loans or grants have been obligated so far this year. Last year, there were 38 loans and 5 grants obligated representing $44 million and $251,778 respectively last year.

Two Farm Labor Housing loans totaling $3.1 million, and no grants have been obligated so far this year. Last year at this time, 14 loans and 6 grants were obligated ($19.8 million and $6.2 million, respectively.)

USDA obligated funds for 197,018 rental assistance units under the Section 521 Rental Assistance program totaling over $1.1 billion. This compares to about 186,940 units (almost $1.1 billion) obligated same time last year. There were also 6,671 Rural Housing Vouchers totaling $32 million compared to 6,693 vouchers representing $30.9 million this time last year.

Download the combined document.

* The Rural Housing Service (RHS) monthly obligation reports are produced by the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) 1025 Vermont Ave., NW, Suite 606, Washington, DC 20005. The monthly figures derive from HAC tabulations of USDA –RHS 205c, d, and f report data. For questions or comments about the obligation reports, please contact Michael Feinberg at 202-842-8600 or michael@ruralhome.org.

USDA Obligations FY 2021 Featured Image

USDA Rural Development Obligations FY 21 – July

USDA Rural Development Obligations Report Cover - FY 2021

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) presents this month’s report on Fiscal Year 2021 USDA Rural Housing program obligations.

As of the end of July, USDA obligated 117,200 loans, loan guarantees, and grants totaling about $20.2 billion. This is nearly $3.9 billion more than obligation levels from this time last year. At that time, there were 103,122 loans, loan guarantees, and grants obligated totaling nearly $16.4 billion.

Federal agencies operated under a series of short-term continuing resolutions (CR) for most of the first quarter of FY 2021. A final CR was signed into law on December 27, 2020 which provides funding for the remainder of the fiscal year. Since March 20, 2020, USDA offices have been operating from remote locations due to the COVID-19 virus.

Single Family Housing Program Highlights

The Section 502 Guaranteed loan program, the largest of the Single Family Housing programs, obligated approximately $19.2 billion (108,193 loan guarantees) up from last year’s $15.3 billion ( 93,226 loan guarantees) this time.

For the Section 502 Direct program, loan obligations totaled $826.7 million (4,409 loans), a bit higher than last year’s obligation level of $742.2 million (4,310 loans.)

About 36 percent of the loan dollars went to Very Low-income (VLI) applicants. VLI loans represented over 42 percent of the total number of Section 502 Direct loans.

The Section 504 Repair and Rehabilitation programs obligated 1,700 loans representing almost $10.6 million. Loan volume was up from this time last year (1,912 loans representing about $11.6 million.) There were also about $18.3 million (2,784 grants) obligated in the Section 504 grant program compared to approximately $22.4 million (3,474 grants) last year.

USDA’s Section 523 Self Help Housing Grant program funded 30 grants and contracts totaling nearly $20.4 million compared to last year’s 19 grants and contracts totaling over $22.6 million.

Multi-Family Housing Program Highlights

USDA’s Section 538 Multifamily Housing program obligated 58 loan guarantees totaling almost $149.0 million compared to last year’s 96 loan guarantees ($156.7 million.) No Section 515 Rural Rental Housing program have been funded so far this year, similar to last year at this time. No loans or 5 grants have been obligated so far this year in the MPR program totaling $0 and $251,778 this year compared to 28 loans and 3 grants representing nearly $30.0 million and $988,734, respectively last year.

No Farm Labor Housing loans or grants have been funded so far this year. Last year at this time, 14 loans and 5 grants were obligated (about $19.8 million 794,577 and nearly $5.9 million, respectively.)

USDA obligated funds for 195,414 rental assistance units under the Section 521 Rental Assistance program totaling over $1.1 billion. This compares to about 178,225 units (over $1.0 billion) obligated same time last year. There were also 6,228 Rural Housing Vouchers totaling about $30.0 million compared to 5,700 vouchers representing over $26.4 million this time last year.

Download the combined document.

* The Rural Housing Service (RHS) monthly obligation reports are produced by the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) 1025 Vermont Ave., NW, Suite 606, Washington, DC 20005. The monthly figures derive from HAC tabulations of USDA –RHS 205c, d, and f report data. For questions or comments about the obligation reports, please contact Michael Feinberg at 202-842-8600 or michael@ruralhome.org.

Policy News from the Administration

HAC Supports USDA’s Interest in Racial Justice, Equity, and Underserved Communities

Federal policy and programs benefit some areas of the United States while harming others. HAC was pleased to see the Administration’s Executive Order On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, published on President Biden’s first day in office. In Section 2 of that Order, we were glad to see “persons who live in rural areas” included in the list of groups who need to be granted “consistent and systematic fair, just, and impartial treatment.” Further, we were glad to see “geographic communities” a category that should be considered when determining an “underserved community.”

On this basis, HAC supports USDA’s efforts to advance justice and equity for communities underserved by USDA itself and by others. HAC’s comments submitted in response to USDA’s request for information on Identifying Barriers in USDA Programs and Services; Advancing Racial Justice and Equity and Support for Underserved Communities at USDA address actions that are necessary in several areas. Building capacity, improving access to capital, increasing flexibility, and engaging with stakeholders are among the subjects addressed in HAC’s comments.

In a similar vein, HAC also recently commented on an administration request for input on equity across all federal agencies.

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)

USDA Obligations FY 2021 Featured Image

USDA Rural Development Obligations FY 21 – June

USDA Rural Development Obligations Report Cover - FY 2021

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) presents this month’s report on Fiscal Year 2021 USDA Rural Housing program obligations.

As of the end of June, USDA obligated 106,072 loans, loan guarantees, and grants totaling about $18.3 billion. This is $1.9 billion higher than obligation levels from this time last year. At that time, there were 103,122 loans, loan guarantees, and grants obligated totaling nearly $16.4 billion.

Federal agencies operated under a series of short-term continuing resolutions (CR) for most of the first quarter of FY 2021. A final CR was signed into law on December 27, 2020 which provides funding for the remainder of the fiscal year. Since March 20, 2020, USDA offices have been operating from remote locations due to the COVID-19 virus.

Single Family Housing Program Highlights

The Section 502 Guaranteed loan program, the largest of the Single Family Housing programs, obligated almost $17.4 billion (98,173 loan guarantees) up from over $15.3 billion (93,226 loan guarantees) this time last year.

For the Section 502 Direct program, loan obligations totaled over $712.2 million (3,822 loans), a bit less than last year’s obligation level of $742.2 million (4,310 loans.) About 36 percent of the loan dollars went to Very Low-income (VLI) applicants. VLI loans represented nearly 43 percent of the total number of Section 502 Direct loans.

The Section 504 Repair and Rehabilitation programs obligated 1,511 loans representing $9.4 million. Loan volume was down from this time last year (1,912 loans representing $11.6 million.) There were 2,458 grants totaling about $16.1 million obligated in the Section 504 grant program compared to $22.4 million (3,474 grants) last year.

USDA’s Section 523 Self Help Housing Grant program funded 28 grants and contracts totaling $16.9 million, up from last year’s 19 grants and contracts but less than the total of $22.6 million.

Multi-Family Housing Program Highlights

USDA’s Section 538 Multifamily Housing program obligated 56 loan guarantees totaling about $145.3 million compared to last year’s 96 loan guarantees. No Section 515 Rural Rental Housing program have been funded so far this year, similar to last year at this time. There have been no loans or grants obligated in the MPR program so far this year compared to 28 loans and 3 grants representing $29.9 million and nearly $990 thousand, respectively last year.

No Farm Labor Housing loans or grants have been funded so far this year. Last year at this time, 14 loans and 5 grants were obligated (about $19.8 million and $5.9 million, respectively.)

USDA obligated funds for 171,799 rental assistance units under the Section 521 Rental Assistance program totaling over $998.4 million. This compares to about 178,225 units (over $1 billion) obligated same time last year. There were also 5,732 Rural Housing Vouchers totaling $27.7 million  compared to 5,700 vouchers representing $26.4 million this time last year.

Download the combined document.

* The Rural Housing Service (RHS) monthly obligation reports are produced by the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) 1025 Vermont Ave., NW, Suite 606, Washington, DC 20005. The monthly figures derive from HAC tabulations of USDA –RHS 205c, d, and f report data. For questions or comments about the obligation reports, please contact Michael Feinberg at 202-842-8600 or michael@ruralhome.org.

How HAC’s Loan Application Packaging Training Supports Homeownership

USDA Obligations FY 2021 Featured Image

USDA Rural Development Obligations FY 21 – May

USDA Rural Development Obligations Report Cover - FY 2021

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) presents this month’s report on Fiscal Year 2021 USDA Rural Housing program obligations.

As of the end of May, USDA obligated 94,334 loans, loan guarantees, and grants totaling about $16.2 billion, nearly $2.4 billion higher than obligation levels from this time last year. At that time, there were 88,196 loans, loan guarantees, and grants obligated totaling $13.9 billion.

Federal agencies operated under a series of short-term continuing resolutions (CR) for most of the first quarter of FY 2021. A final CR was signed into law on December 27, 2020 which provides funding for the remainder of the fiscal year. Since March 20, 2020, USDA offices have been operating from remote locations due to the COVID-19 virus.

Single Family Housing Program Highlights

The Section 502 Guaranteed loan program, the largest of the Single Family Housing programs, obligated nearly $15.5 billion (87,519 loan guarantees) up from almost $13.0 (79,509 loan guarantees) this time last year.

For the Section 502 Direct program, loan obligations totaled $605 million (3,281 loans), a bit less than last year’s obligation level of $629 million (3,681 loans.) Nearly 37 percent of the loan dollars went to Very Low-income (VLI) applicants. VLI loans represented over 43 percent of the total number of Section 502 Direct loans.

The Section 504 Repair and Rehabilitation programs obligated 1,316 loans representing about $8 million. Loan volume was down from this time last year (1,722 loans representing $10.4 million.) About $13.7 million (2,119 grants) was obligated in the Section 504 grant program compared to over $20 million (3,105 grants) last year.

USDA’s Section 523 Self Help Housing Grant program funded 27 grants and contracts totaling $16.9 million, a bit less than last year’s 14 grants and contracts totaling over $20.5 million.

Multi-Family Housing Program Highlights

USDA’s Section 538 Multifamily Housing program obligated 51 loan guarantees totaling $135.7 million compared to last year’s 92 loan guarantees ($145.6 million.) No Section 515 Rural Rental Housing loans and no MPR loans or grants have been funded so far this year, similar to last year at this time.

No Farm Labor Housing loans or grants have been funded so far this year. Last year at this time, 13 loans and 5 grants were obligated ($19.7 million and $5.9 million, respectively.)

In the Section 521 Rental Assistance program, USDA obligated funds for 125,076 rental assistance units the Section 521 Rental Assistance program totaling nearly $740.0 million. This compares to about 135,675 units ($783.0 million) obligated same time last year. There were also 5,007 Rural Housing Vouchers totaling $24.3 million compared to 5,368 vouchers representing $25.0 million this time last year.

Download the combined document.

* The Rural Housing Service (RHS) monthly obligation reports are produced by the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) 1025 Vermont Ave., NW, Suite 606, Washington, DC 20005. The monthly figures derive from HAC tabulations of USDA –RHS 205c, d, and f report data. For questions or comments about the obligation reports, please contact Michael Feinberg at 202-842-8600 or michael@ruralhome.org.

Policy News from the Administration

Biden’s USDA Housing Budget Proposes Increases in Section 502 Mortgages and Rental Preservation

The Biden administration’s first full budget request, covering the fiscal year that begins on October 1, 2021, would maintain this year’s spending levels on rural housing programs and make available more loans for rural homebuyers. The Section 502 direct loan program, though which USDA makes loans directly to first-time purchasers, would be raised from $1 billion to $1.5 billion. The Section 502 guarantee program, which guarantees mortgages made by banks, would increase from $24 billion to $30 billion.

Fiscal year 2022 funding for most rural housing programs would remain at the same levels as in fiscal year 2021, with modest increases for self-help housing, rental assistance, and rental vouchers. The budget also indicates that the American Jobs Plan – the administration’s infrastructure proposal – would provide an additional $2 billion in rural housing spending. It does not give any details about how that money would be used.

The budget proposes to eliminate some protections for Section 521 Rental Assistance (RA). It would delete a requirement that recaptured RA be reused for rehab, preservation, or RA, and it would eliminate longstanding provisions requiring a 12-month delay before recapturing unused RA from Section 514/516 farmworker housing and mandating that farmworker housing RA be reused in other farmworker housing if possible. Language that allows recaptured RA to be used for “current needs” would be left in place.

Also deleted would be a provision from FY20 and FY21 appropriations that allows owners to request RA renewals for 20-year periods, subject to annual appropriations, which fund RA contracts for one year at a time.

The Multifamily Preservation and Revitalization (MPR) program, the Section 542 voucher program, and both farmworker housing programs would be shifted to new places in the budgetary scheme, an administrative move that would not alter the functioning of any of these programs.

The administration’s budget is the first step in the annual appropriations process. Each house of Congress will now craft its own proposal and differences will be worked out in the months to come.

USDA Rural Dev. Prog.

(dollars in millions)

FY20 Final Approp. FY21 Final Approp. Amer. Rescue Plan Act FY 22 Admin. Budget
502 Single Fam. Direct $1,000 $1,000 $656.6 $1,500
502 Single Family Guar. 24,000 24,000 30,000
504 VLI Repair Loans 28 28 18.3a 28
504 VLI Repair Grants 30 30 30
515 Rental Hsg. Direct Lns. 40 40 40
514 Farm Labor Hsg. Lns. 28 28 28
516 Farm Labor Hsg. Grts. 10 10 10
521 Rental Assistance 1,375 1,410 100 1,450
523 Self-Help TA 31 31 32
533 Hsg. Prsrv. Grants 15 15 15
538 Rental Hsg. Guar. 230 230 230
Rental Prsrv. Demo. (MPR) 28 28 32
542 Rural Hsg. Vouchers 32 40 45
Rental Prsrv. TA 1 2 0
Rural Cmnty. Dev’t Init. 4 6 6

a The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides $39 million in budget authority to refinance Section 502 direct loans and Section 504 loans for homeowners impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. USDA expects this funding to generate $656.6 million in Section 502 direct loans and $18.3 million in Section 504 loans.

 

HAC News: May 13, 2021

HAC News Formats. pdf

May 13, 2021

Vol. 50, No. 10

TOP STORIES

Eviction moratorium remains in effect while under court review.
Ruling that the Centers for Disease Control did not have the legal authority to issue its moratorium on evictions, a federal judge on May 6 declared the measure invalid, then temporarily stayed her order when the Justice Department appealed it. Numerous other suits have been filed in state and federal courts, with some judges upholding the moratorium and others finding it did not apply in specific cases.

New guidance will help tenants access Emergency Rental Assistance.
On May 7, when the Treasury Department allocated $21.6 billion to states and localities in Emergency Rental Assistance funds appropriated by the American Rescue Plan Act, it also revised its FAQs and fact sheet for the program. The new documents address some of the challenges faced by tenants trying to use the first round of ERA aid. For example, they require program administrators to provide relief directly to tenants whose landlords decline to participate, and to help tenants in federally assisted housing pay their share of rents. Summaries comparing the ERA 1 and ERA 2 programs are available from the National Low Income Housing Coalition and National Council of State Housing Agencies.

USDA homeowner refi funds available soon, officials tell Congress.
The Biden administration’s plans for USDA Rural Development were examined in a May 6 House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee virtual hearing. Funds from the American Rescue Plan Act will be used to refinance loans to USDA single-family borrowers who have been under forbearance during the pandemic, said Chad Parker, Acting RHS Administrator. USDA expects to issue guidance to its staff later in May and then to begin accepting applications for these refinances in late May or early June. The $39 million appropriation will yield about $650 million in Section 502 direct mortgages and $18.8 million in Section 504 home repair loans. The American Rescue Plan Act also provided $100 million for new Section 521 Rental Assistance; USDA has already issued guidance for field staff regarding these funds. The hearing also touched on the backlogged MPR rental preservation program, subsidy recapture for Section 502 homeowners, the need for local capacity building and USDA staff levels; a summary is posted on HAC’s website.

May is Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
President Biden’s proclamation includes condemnation of anti-Asian bias and violence.

RuralSTAT
Over the past year an average of 4.6% of U.S. homeowners and 12.4% of renters lacked confidence in their ability to make their next mortgage or rent payment. Source: HAC tabulations of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Pulse Survey.

OPPORTUNITIES

HUD offers Choice Neighborhood Planning Grants.
Nonprofits, PHAs, local governments and tribal entities can apply by July 13 for grants to develop comprehensive neighborhood revitalization strategies to guide the revitalization of public or assisted housing and transformation of surrounding neighborhoods.

Emergency Broadband Benefit program launched.
The Federal Communications Commission is offering discounts to low-income people for broadband service and computer purchases during the coronavirus pandemic. The program can be used for a new or existing broadband plan from a participating provider. It will end when funds are exhausted or six months after the federal government declares an end to the pandemic. FCC also offers outreach materials, including handouts in several languages. For more information contact a broadband provider, visit FCC’s webpage or call 833-511-0311 to receive an application by mail.

NEW Conference Coordinator job opening at HAC; Community Facilities Housing Specialist also open.
For details, visit HAC’s website.

  • The Conference Coordinator supports every part of preparing and delivering HAC’s 2021 National Rural Housing Conference. Excellent communication skills and attention to detail are vital, along with proven experience in conference and/or event planning to include logistic coordination. This is a full-time, temporary position and is eligible for telecommuting.
  • The Community Facilities Housing Specialist identifies and engages community stakeholders and provides direct technical assistance to rural organizations that are developing facilities such as parks, community centers, public libraries and childcare centers. This includes helping them identify, utilize and apply for financial resources such as USDA Community Facilities grants and loans. This a two-year position and is eligible for telecommuting.

 
CORONAVIRUS

Administration’s vaccination goal includes rural outreach.
The federal effort to vaccinate 70% of American adults by July 4 involves supports directed at underserved communities, including rural places. The White House aims to improve rural access by sending vaccines directly to rural health clinics, funding rural clinics to conduct education and outreach, and helping rural clinics and hospitals broaden their testing and mitigation work.

HUD and HHS work together to increase testing and vaccinations.
HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra announced a joint-agency effort to increase access to COVID-19 prevention and treatment services, including testing and vaccinations, among disproportionately affected communities, including among HUD-assisted households and people experiencing homelessness. They asked community health centers, HUD grantees and others to assist with registering and scheduling tests and vaccination appointments and facilitating on-site vaccine clinics.

“Why lagging COVID vaccine rate at rural hospitals ‘needs to be fixed now.’”
This story by National Public Radio reports on relatively low rates of vaccinations among rural health care workers. The National Rural Health Association and Chartis Center for Rural Health surveyed rural hospital executives, 30% of whom said less than half their employees had been vaccinated. About the same proportion said that 70% or more of their staff were vaccinated.

Guide proposes ways for local coronavirus funding to advance racial equity.
10 Priorities for Advancing Racial Equity Through the American Rescue Plan: A Guide for City and County Policymakers, published by PolicyLink, is addressed to city and county governments receiving  recovery funds from the Treasury Department. The guide provides a worksheet with questions to help achieve the ten priorities, which include explicitly naming racial equity as a goal, engaging historically underserved communities in prioritizing investments, and preventing displacement and increasing community ownership of land and housing.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Comments sought on government reaching underserved communities, including rural.
Rural residents are among several examples of underserved populations identified in an Office of Management and Budget notice requesting input by July 6 on methods, approaches and tools that could help determine whether federal agency policies and actions equitably serve all eligible individuals and communities. For more information, contact  Amira Boland, OMB, 202-395-5222.

USDA updates guidance for Community Facilities programs.
USDA Rural Development released three documents on May 11 with information relevant to applicants or recipients of CF direct loans, loan guarantees or grants: best practices for RD staff to evaluate proposed projects; documentation required when a direct loan applicant has less than five years of successful operations; and requirements for submitting audit reports or financial statements.

Vilsack confirms ERS and NIFA will stay in Kansas City.
USDA will not move the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture back to Washington, DC, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has stated. The Counter reports representatives of the employees’ union agreed that was the least disruptive decision and recommended hiring remote workers to rebuild staff capacity. The Trump administration relocated the agencies in 2019.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Mortgage interest deduction increases racial disparities, research shows.
The income tax deduction available to higher-income homeowners contributes to economic and racial inequality, the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Institute for Economic and Racial Equity at Brandeis University write in a new report. Misdirected Housing Supports: Why the Mortgage Interest Deduction Unjustly Subsidizes High-Income Households and Expands Racial Disparities explains that affluent white households benefit disproportionately from the deduction. The authors propose ending the MID and directing those federal resources to help rectify unjust racial disparities.

Rural places received few early Opportunity Zones investments.
A University of California Berkeley analysis, Neighborhood-Level Investment from the U.S. Opportunity Zone Program: Early Evidence, finds that in 2019, Opportunity Zone capital was highly concentrated in only 16% of the eligible census tracts nationwide and focused on places with relatively high incomes, pre-existing upward trends in incomes and home values, and declining shares of elderly and non-white residents. These OZ investments focused on real estate, both commercial and residential. The paper emphasizes that the available data was incomplete and covered only the program’s early implementation; a review by the Economic Innovation Group reinforces this point. The Berkeley researchers established baselines against which to measure impacts of OZ investments as more data becomes available in the future.

New analysis illustrates U.S. broadband gaps.
Using publicly available Microsoft data, the Verge created an interactive map showing the proportion of people in each county who use the internet at broadband speed. The data does not indicate whether broadband is unavailable in a given area or is available but unaffordable for residents.

“In rural towns like Kit Carson, a housing and development conundrum born of rising costs, disrepair – and lots of asbestos.”
The Colorado Sun article uses one town’s example to highlight threats facing many others, including “declining population, shifting economics of agriculture, absentee property ownership, and an aging and too-often-deteriorating housing inventory.” Many rural towns struggle to balance investing in rehabilitation of current housing stock and economic development. Their goal is to have enough jobs and housing for the next generation to stay.

CITIZENS’ INSTITUTE FOR RURAL DESIGN

American Artscape features Mt. Zion Baptist Church.
A 2019 recipient of funding from the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design, the Mt. Zion Baptist Church Preservation Society is receiving national recognition for its leadership in elevating black voices and history. The church is featured in the latest issue of American Artscape, a magazine of the National Endowment for the Arts, which focuses on equity and access for the arts in black communities. CIRD design team lead and HAC collaborator Omar Hakeem is interviewed in this story about partnership with architects to redesign a historically black church in Appalachian Ohio and what that inspires in the community.

National Endowment for the Arts announces $88 million in 2021 funding awards.
NEA award recipients include two communities that participated in the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design in 2019 and have now received additional funding through the Our Town program: the Pike School of Art in McComb, MS and Snow Pond Center for the Arts (New England Music Camp) in Sidney, ME.

HAC

Need capital for your affordable housing project?
HAC’s loan fund provides low interest rate loans to support single- and multifamily affordable housing projects for low-income rural residents throughout the U.S. and territories. Capital is available for all types of affordable and mixed-income housing projects, including preservation, new development, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development, construction/rehabilitation and permanent financing. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at  hacloanfund@ruralhome.org, 202-842-8600.
Please note: HAC is not able to offer loans to individuals or families. Borrowers must be nonprofit or for-profit organizations or government entities (including tribes).

USDA Obligations FY 2021 Featured Image

USDA Rural Development Obligations FY 21 – April

USDA Rural Development Obligations Report Cover - FY 2021

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) presents this month’s report on Fiscal Year 2021 USDA Rural Housing program obligations.

As of the end of April, USDA obligated 83,295 loans, loan guarantees, and grants totaling about $14.3 billion. This is $2.2 billion higher than obligation levels from this time last year. At that time, there were 77,581 loans, loan guarantees, and grants obligated totaling $12.1 billion.

Federal agencies operated under a series of short-term continuing resolutions (CR) for most of the first quarter of FY 2021. A final CR was signed into law on December 27, 2020 which provides funding for the remainder of the fiscal year. Since March 20, 2020, USDA offices have been operating from remote locations due to the COVID-19 virus.

Single Family Housing Program Highlights

The Section 502 Guaranteed loan program, the largest of the Single Family Housing programs, obligated over $13.6 billion (77,364 loan guarantees) up from $11.3 billion (69,902 loan guarantees) this time last year.

For the Section 502 Direct program, loan obligations totaled $533.1 million (2,902 loans), about $24.5 million less than last year’s obligation level of $557.6 million (3,262 loans.) About 37 percent of the loan dollars went to Very Low-income (VLI) applicants. VLI loans represented over 43 percent of the total number of Section 502 Direct loans.

The Section 504 Repair and Rehabilitation programs obligated 1,119 loans representing $6.6 million. At this time last year, USDA obligated 1,509 Section 504 loans representing $9 million. The Section 504 grant program saw about $11.7 million (1,821 grants) obligated compared to $17.7 million (2,756 grants) at this time last year.

USDA’s Section 523 Self Help Housing Grant program funded 23 grants and contracts totaling $15,030,227 up from 12 grants and contracts totaling $13,069,195 a year ago.

Multi-Family Housing Programs

USDA’s Section 538 Multifamily Housing program obligated 48 loan guarantees totaling $129.0 million compared to last year’s 86 loan guarantees ($137.6 million.) No Section 515 Rural Rental Housing program have been funded so far this year, similar to last year at this time. There have been no MPR loans or grants obligated so far this year compared to 4 loans representing $143,438 at this time last year.

No Farm Labor Housing loans or grants have been funded so far this year. Last year at this time, 9 loans and 5 grants were obligated ($18.6 million and nearly $5.9 million respectively.)

USDA obligated funds for 125,050 rental assistance units under the Section 521 Rental Assistance program totaling $739.7 million. This compares to about 135,562 units ($782.6 million) obligated same time last year. There were also 4,511 Rural Housing Vouchers totaling $21.8 million compared to 4,680 vouchers representing $21.9 million this time last year.

Download the combined document.

* The Rural Housing Service (RHS) monthly obligation reports are produced by the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) 1025 Vermont Ave., NW, Suite 606, Washington, DC 20005. The monthly figures derive from HAC tabulations of USDA –RHS 205c, d, and f report data. For questions or comments about the obligation reports, please contact Michael Feinberg at 202-842-8600 or michael@ruralhome.org.