Policy News from the Administration

Budget Requests Increases in Most Rural Housing Programs

The Biden Administration’s budget for fiscal year 2023 proposes funding increases for almost every U.S. Department of Agriculture rural housing program, along with some important program changes for preservation of aging rental housing.

The March 28 budget release is only the first step in the process of developing federal appropriations for the fiscal year that begins on October 1, 2022. HAC held a webinar to review the budget’s contents and what to expect over the coming months; view the slides and recording here.

— HAC’s analysis of the HUD portion of the budget is available here.  —

Rental Housing

The USDA budget proposes to quadruple Section 515 rental housing from $50 million in FY22 to $200 million in FY23, with the funds to be used for preserving existing Section 515 properties. The Multifamily Preservation and Revitalization program, which finances efforts to upgrade and maintain aging units constructed with Section 515 financing or the Section 514/516 farmworker housing program, would jump from $34 million this year to $75 million in FY23.

Farmworker housing loans and grants would almost double, with $6 million in Section 521 Rental Assistance set aside for new Section 514/516 units. The Section 538 loan guarantee program would see a large increase as well. (Details are provided in the table below.)

The $1.564 billion requested for Section 521 Rental Assistance renewals “will enable 272,000 existing contracts to be renewed, including making permanent the approximately 27,000 units that were brought into the program by the American Rescue Plan Act supplemental funding,” according to USDA’s budget explanation. The same document states, however, that RA assisted 284,194 tenant households in FY21.

The budget also asks Congress to “decouple” Rental Assistance from Section 515. Currently the programs are linked: RA cannot be made available to a property unless it has a USDA Section 515 or 514 loan. Separating them, so that RA could be offered after a property pays off its USDA mortgage, would help keep properties affordable for their tenants.

To protect tenants whose properties leave the USDA portfolio without decoupling, the administration proposes to provide $20 million in HUD Tenant Protection Vouchers. Based on the assumption that decoupling and the availability of HUD vouchers will eliminate the need for new USDA vouchers, the budget requests only enough Section 542 funding to renew existing assistance.

Homeownership

The budget proposes to increase funding for all USDA’s homeownership programs. It would also provide $20.8 million to expand the Native American Section 502 Relending pilot program. The pilot has enabled Native Community Development Financial Institutions to assist Native American homebuyers in tribal communities of South Dakota and North Dakota.

Rural Partnership Program

Pursuing an idea proposed in the Build Back Better Act, which has not been passed by Congress, the budget proposes $39 million for the Rural Partnership Program. In a statement about the budget, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack described it as “a renewed and expanded initiative to leverage USDA’s extensive network of county-based offices to help people in high poverty counties, including energy communities.”

Placemaking

The budget would provide $3 million for the Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge “to provide planning support, technical assistance, and training to foster placemaking activities in rural communities.” [NOTE: This sentence was corrected on March 29 to say $3 million. When this post was published, it stated incorrectly that the amount was $3 billion.]

Energy Efficiency and Climate Resilience

All USDA housing production would be required to “improve energy or water efficiency, indoor air quality, or sustainability improvements, implement low-emission technologies, materials, or processes, including zero-emission electricity generation, energy storage, building electrification, or electric car charging station installations; or address climate resilience of multifamily properties.”

USDA Rural Dev. Prog.

(dollars in millions)

FY21 Final Approp. Amer. Rescue Plan Act FY22 Admin. Budget FY22 Final Approp. FY23 Budget
502 Single Fam. Direct $1,000 $656.6 $1,500 $1,250 $1,500
502 Single Family Guar. 24,000 30,000 30,000 30,000
504 VLI Repair Loans 28 18.3 28 28 50
504 VLI Repair Grants 30 30 32 45
515 Rental Hsg. Direct Lns. 40 40 50 200
514 Farm Labor Hsg. Lns. 28 28 28 50
516 Farm Labor Hsg. Grts. 10 10 10 18
521 Rental Assistance 1,410 100 1,450 1,450 1,564
523 Self-Help TA 31 32 32 40
533 Hsg. Prsrv. Grants 15 15 16 30
538 Rental Hsg. Guar. 230 230 250 400
Rental Prsrv. Demo. (MPR) 28 32 34 75
542 Rural Hsg. Vouchers 40 45 45 38
Rental Prsrv. TA 2 0 2 0
Rural Cmnty. Dev’t Init. 6 6 6 12
Community Facil. Loans 2,800 2,800 2,800 2,800
Community Facil. Grants 32 32 40 52
      Tribal Colleges CF Grts 5 10 10 10
Community Facil. Guarantees 500 500 650 500

 

 

Policy News from the Administration

HUD Budget Proposes New Housing Investments

The Biden Administration’s budget for fiscal year 2023 proposes substantial investments in existing Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs (details are in the table below) and new initiatives targeted to:

  • Increasing affordable housing supply;
  • Expanding rental assistance and increasing its impact on households experiencing homelessness and family mobility; and
  • Addressing climate change.

The March 28 budget release is only the first step in the process of developing federal appropriations for the fiscal year that begins on October 1, 2022. HAC held a webinar to review the budget’s contents and what to expect over the coming months; view the slides and recording here.

— HAC’s analysis of USDA’s rural housing budget is available here

Increasing Affordable Housing Supply

The budget proposes $50 billion in mandatory spending to increase and streamline affordable housing production. HUD would administer $35 billion of this total as a Housing Supply Fund, consisting of two elements:

  • $25 billion in formula grants to be distributed to “State and local housing finance agencies and their partners, territories, and Tribes” to support streamlined financing tools for multifamily and single-family units, producing housing for both renters and homebuyers. The funding is intended to facilitate the production and preservation of smaller developments that struggle to obtain financing in the current housing finance system. The budget specifically notes that “many rural and midsize jurisdictions need a path to development that includes smaller building footprints to better integrate with existing communities.”
  • $10 billion in grants to: 1) support state and local jurisdictions that adopt policies that remove barriers to affordable housing and development; and 2) incentivize funding of housing-related infrastructure such as environmental planning, transportation, and water/sewer infrastructure.

The remaining $15 billion in mandatory funding is to be administered by the Department of the Treasury, divided into:

  • $10 billion in additional Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC); and
  • $5 billion in grants to Community Development Financial Institutions to support financing for construction, acquisition, rehab and preservation of rental and homeownership housing, with an emphasis on increasing the participation of small-scale developers and contractors. The grants will seek to:
    • increase the climate resiliency and energy efficiency of affordable housing;
    • focus on underserved markets, including single-family, small properties (1-4 units) and small multifamily properties with fewer than 100 units;
    • expand homeownership opportunities by targeting single-family properties for individuals and families with incomes up to 120 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) and up to 150 percent of AMI in high cost areas (including acquisition and rehabilitation); and
    • preserve affordable housing that is at risk of conversion to market rate.

Additional investments in existing HUD programs designed to complement the Housing Supply Fund grants include $2 billion in funding for the HOME Investment Partnerships program ($150 million above the FY 2022 enacted level), $100 million in funding for 1,100 new units in the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program, and 900 new units in the 811 Permanent Supportive Housing Program for Persons with Disabilities.

Rental Assistance, Homelessness, and Family Mobility

In addition to renewing all existing project-based rental assistance (PBRA) contracts and Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) currently in use, the budget proposes $1.6 billion in funding to expand the Housing Choice Voucher program by 200,000 subsidies – the largest one-year expansion since the program’s inception – with the incremental subsidies targeting individuals fleeing domestic violence and persons experiencing homelessness. This effort to combat homelessness is coupled with a $576 million increase in the Homeless Assistance Grants account to $3 billion. The budget also includes $445 million in mobility services connected to use of HCVs in a broad range of communities.

Addressing Climate Change

In addition to the sustainability and resilience incentives in the Housing Supply Fund, the HUD budget includes:

  • $300 million to increase energy efficiency and climate resilience in public housing;
  • $150 million in funding for housing initiatives on Native American lands to increase energy efficiency and climate resilience and improve water conservation; and
  • $250 million to rehabilitate HUD multifamily properties to be healthier, more energy efficient, and climate-resilient.

 

HUD Program

(dollars in millions)

FY21 Final Approp. FY22 Admin. Budget FY22 Final Approp. FY23 Admin. Budget
CDBG $3,475 $3,770 $4,841* $3,770
HOME 1,350 1,850 1,500 1,950
Self-Help Homeownshp. (SHOP) 10 10 12.5 10
Veterans Home Rehab 4 4 4 4
Tenant-Based Rental Asstnce. 25,778 30,442 27,370 32,130
    VASH setaside 40 0 50 0
    Tribal VASH 5 5 5 5
Project-Based Rental Asstnce. 13,465 14,060 13,940 15,000
Public Hsg. Capital Fund 2,942 3,678 3,388 3,720
Public Hsg. Operating Fund 4,864 4,917 5,064 5,060
Choice Neighbrhd. Initiative 200 250 350 250
Native Amer. Hsg. 825 1,000 1,002 1,000
Homeless Assistance Grants 3,000 3,500 3,213 3,576
Hsg. Opps. for Persons w/ AIDS 430 450 450 455
202 Hsg. for Elderly 855 928 1,033 966
811 Hsg. for Disabled 227 272 352 287
Fair Housing 72.6 85 85 86
Healthy Homes & Lead Haz. Cntl. 360 400 415 400
Housing Counseling 57.5 85.9 57.5 65.9

* The substantial increase in CDBG funding was driven nearly entirely by the return, after a 10-year absence, of $1.5 billion for the Economic Development Initiative for the purpose of funding Community Projects/Congressionally Directed Spending (popularly known as “earmarks”).

Policy News from Congress

Over 300 Organizations Express Support for SHOP and RCB Programs

With the help of our network of organizations working across the country in rural areas, more than 300 organizations signed on to support increased funding for SHOP and the Rural Capacity Building (RCB) programs at HUD. HAC has helped almost 10,000 rural families achieve homeownership using the SHOP program, and has provided thousands of hours of customized technical assistance to more than 750 local organizations using the RCB program. Check out the letter below to learn more. Thanks to Habitat for Humanity, Community Frameworks, and Tierra del Sol for their partnership on this effort!

FY23 SHOP and RCB Organizational Sign-on Letter
Policy News from Congress

HUD Programs Slated for Funding Increases

Information on FY22 USDA funding

UPDATE March 11, 2022 – Both the House and Senate have passed the omnibus bill and President Biden will sign it into law, avoiding a government shutdown and funding federal programs through fiscal year 2022, which ends on September 30, 2022.

March 9, 2022 – Many HUD programs will receive more funding in fiscal year 2022 than in 2021 under the provisions of the omnibus appropriations bill released overnight. Generally, however, the final figures fall below the highest increases proposed by the Biden administration, the House, or the Senate.

The SHOP program was increased from $10 million in FY21 to $12.5 million – the first increase in the program since FY15. The spending agreement also encourages HUD to consider increasing the per-unit cap for the combined cost of land acquisition and infrastructure improvements under the SHOP program, which is currently $15,000 per unit.

The bill includes funds for 25,000 new rental vouchers, a step towards the 300,000 new vouchers that would have been provided by the Build Back Better Act.

The substantial increase in CDBG funding was driven nearly entirely by the return, after a 10-year absence, of $1.5 billion for the Economic Development Initiative for the purpose of funding Community Projects/Congressionally Directed Spending (popularly known as “earmarks”).

The continuing resolution that currently funds the federal government ends at midnight on March 11. The House is expected to pass the omnibus bill on March 9. Another continuing resolution, lasting just a few days, may be needed to give the Senate enough time to act.

 

HUD Program

(dollars in millions)

FY20 Final Approp. FY21 Final Approp. FY22 Admin. Budget FY22 House Bill FY22 Senate Bill FY22 Final
CDBG $3,425 $3,475 $3,770 $4,688 $4,190 $4,841
HOME 1,350 1,350 1,850 1,850 1,450 1,500
Self-Help Homeownshp. (SHOP) 10 10 10 15 15 12.5
Veterans Home Rehab 4 4 4 4 4
Tenant-Based Rental Asstnce. 23,874 25,778 30,442 29,216 27,719 27,370
    VASH setaside 40 40 20 50 50
    Tribal VASH 1 5 5 5 5 5
Project-Based Rental Asstnce. 12,570 13,465 14,060 14,010 13,970 13,940
Public Hsg. Capital Fund 2,870 2,942 3,678 3,718 3,794 3,388
Public Hsg. Operating Fund 4,549 4,864 4,917 4,922 5,044 5,064
Choice Neighbrhd. Initiative 175 200 250 400 200 350
Native Amer. Hsg. 825 825 1,000 950 1,000 1,002
Homeless Assistance Grants 2,777 3,000 3,500 3,420 3,260 3,213
Hsg. Opps. for Persons w/ AIDS 410 430 450 600 450 450
202 Hsg. for Elderly 793 855 928 1,033 956 1,033
811 Hsg. for Disabled 202 227 272 352 227 352
Fair Housing 70.3 72.6 85 85 85 85
Healthy Homes & Lead Haz. Cntl. 290 360 400 460 400 415
Housing Counseling 53 57.5 85.9 100 57.5 57.5

October 20, 2021 – The Senate Appropriations Committee has released nine proposed appropriations bills, including the Transportation-HUD bill, for the fiscal year that began on October 1. The committee would increase many programs above their FY21 funding levels, though generally it would not raise them to the figures proposed in the House bill. The Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) is an exception, set in both the House and Senate bills at $15 million rather than the $10 million it received in FY21. Native American housing would also receive more under the Senate bill than from the House. Details are provided in the table below.

Federal programs are currently funded through a continuing resolution that keeps them at FY21 levels. It will expire on December 3, 2021.

 

July 29, 2021 – The full House passed H.R. 4502, a “minibus” containing several FY22 appropriations bills, including the bills for both HUD and USDA.

 

July 16, 2021 – The House Appropriations Committee has approved the Transportation-HUD funding bill. It is expected to be considered by the full House as part of a “minibus” package of several FY22 appropriations bills, which will also include the Agriculture bill.

 

July, 2021 – On July 16, 2021 the House Appropriations Committee will consider a fiscal year 2022 funding bill for the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. The bill was approved on July 12 by the T-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee.

The House bill would set funding levels for many HUD programs at or above the amounts requested in the President’s budget and would provide substantial increases above FY21 levels for almost all programs. Details are provided in the table below.

 

Policy News from Congress

Federal Funding Extended to February 18

Hours before a temporary spending measure was set to expire on December 3, both houses of Congress passed and President Biden signed another continuing resolution that will carry funding through February 18, 2022. Fiscal year 2022 began on October 1, 2021.

The measure holds most government programs, including housing programs at USDA and HUD, at their fiscal 2021 funding levels. Bills proposing increased resources for housing at both USDA and HUD passed the House of Representatives in July 2021 and have been introduced in the Senate.

 

Shawn Poynter/ There is More Work to be Done

UPDATE – 120 organizations sign on to Support rural housing and capacity building in the Build Back Better Act

Thank you! With your help 120 organizations signed on Congressional leadership yesterday in support of the robust rural housing and rural capacity building investments in the House bills for the Build Back Better Act. Nearly 120 organizations from across the country signed on to support these important investments.

Read the Letter

HAC Rural Housing Reconciliation Sign-On

 

Congress is currently working to negotiate the Build Back Better Act. Rural housing and capacity building programs are currently included in the bill and we want to make sure they continue to be top priorities. HAC is circulating a sign-on letter to Congressional leadership in support of maintaining rural housing and capacity building investments in the Build Back Better Act. You can view the text of the letter below. As a valued friend of HAC, we hope that you will add your organization’s name to this effort.

If you have any questions, please reach out to HAC’s Government Relations Manager, Samantha Booth, at samantha@ruralhome.org. The deadline to sign on is Tuesday, October 12. We appreciate your help.

 

SHOP Application Reference Material

Application Materials

The following links are provided to assist you in completing a 2021 Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) application. These links provide additional information on program and eligibility requirements.

  1. FY 2021 SHOP NOFO
  2. Eligibility Requirements for Applicaitons of HUD’s Grant Programs
  3. General Administrative Requirements and Terms for HUD’s Financial Assistance Awards
  4. Federal Register Notice
BJ Kinds (center), construction manager with Delta Design Build Workshop, frames a house in Eastmoor on Sept. 2, 2020.Rory Doyle/ There is More Work to be Done

Transformational Rural Resources & Reconciliation

We are living through a momentous time. Trillions of dollars are flowing into communities to help address the impacts of the pandemic and position our nation to lead into the future. But, like water, federal funding often flows to the path of least resistance and historically this inertia has left behind rural areas, persistently poor counties, and communities of color. As Congress enters discussions on infrastructure, a focus on targeting these transformational resources to address long-existing patterns of rural poverty has never been more important.

There has been no lack of news coverage over the last year about Americans fleeing the big city for a quieter, more socially distanced small-town life. High-amenity rural communities across the country are seeing explosive growth that has led some to announce the beginning of a rural renaissance for American millennials. But this trend does not hold true for under-resourced rural places, which have often suffered under the weight of persistent poverty for decades.

Fortunately, Congress has recognized this need and infrastructure reconciliation conversations have included critical resources for rural affordable housing and community development. Many of these resources align with HAC’s 2021 Rural Housing Policy Priorities. Here are some highlights on these resources:

  • USDA Rural Housing Service Resources

    • A transformational investment in rural multifamily housing, including $4.36 billion for new construction, rehabilitation, and preservation of Section 515 rental housing and Section 514/516 farmworker housing, as well as $200 million for Section 521 Rental Assistance. With thousands of USDA multifamily units maturing and leaving the program each year and no funding for new construction in a decade, this investment could right the ship and preserve an estimated 38,720 units.
    • Additional support for rural affordable homeownership, including $70 million in budget authority for Section 502 direct homeownership loans (estimated to support loans totaling about $3.7 billion); $95 million for Section 504 repair grants; and $25 million for Section 523 self-help.
  • Rural Partnership Program (RPP)

    • The Rural Partnership Program (RPP) is a newly proposed program that is funded at nearly $4 billion and would provide flexible grants to support rural and tribal community development and capacity building. The proposed program has two parts: grants to support direct activities and projects, and grants to support the organizations responsible for providing technical assistance and capacity to administer the grants.
  • Other critical resources for rural housing

    • $25 million in additional funding for the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) at HUD, which is a critical tool for rural affordable homeownership. HAC’s SHOP program has created nearly 10,000 homes in rural places across the country.
    • A $1 billion setaside of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for colonias on the U.S.-Mexico border. These generally unincorporated communities along the U.S.-Mexico border in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas are characterized by high poverty rates and substandard living conditions, often lacking potable drinking water, water and wastewater systems, paved streets, and access to standard mortgage financing. This investment in colonias will allow these communities to develop the basic infrastructure they desperately need.

The new Administration has made geographic equity for rural places a priority, and we are hopeful that Congress will recognize the unique needs of rural areas and maintain these resources as the negotiations move forward. Rural communities are worthy of investment—and now is the time to make that investment in the future of rural America. If you would like to learn more about HAC’s policy priorities, click here.

Policy News from Congress

Updated Sept. 14 – Rural Rental Housing and Repairs for Homeowners Included in Draft Bill

UPDATE September 14, 2021 – More rural housing funding has been added to the House Financial Services Committee’s portion of the reconciliation package. It now includes:

  • $4.36 billion for new construction, rehabilitation, and preservation of Section 515 rental housing and Section 514/516 farmworker housing;
  • $200 million for Section 521 Rental Assistance;
  • $70 million in budget authority for Section 502 direct homeownership loans (estimated to support loans totaling about $3.7 billion);
  • $95 million for Section 504 repair grants; and
  • $25 million for Section 523 self-help.

The bill sets no time limits for spending most of these funds, although the Rental Assistance money would expire on September 30, 2024.

Funding for HUD’s Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) was also added when the draft was revised. An additional $50 million would be available for SHOP over 10 years. As noted below, the bill provides substantial new funding for numerous HUD programs.

The Financial Services Committee began its consideration of the bill on September 13 and is continuing on September 14. The markup session will also consider a bill to reauthorize the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA), which would establish a new annual 5 percent setaside for tribes under USDA’s Section 502, 504, 515, 533, and 538 programs, as well as the Rural Utilities Service programs.

The Financial Service Committee’s portion of the reconciliation bill will be combined with pieces from other committees to create the full $3.5 trillion package. The House is expected to approve it. Then it will be considered in the Senate, where it needs only a majority vote to pass, but it is not yet clear whether enough Senators will vote for it.

 

September 9, 2021 – Congress’s $3.5 trillion reconciliation package includes $5 billion for USDA’s rural rental housing programs and $100 million for repairs to rural owner-occupied homes. The House Financial Services Committee released legislative text on September 9, providing details that were not previously available.

The $5 billion rural rental total would be used for new construction of Section 515 rental housing and 514/516 farmworker housing, and for preserving existing properties through the Multifamily Preservation and Revitalization program.

USDA’s Section 504 grant program, which covers the costs of health and safety repairs to owner-occupied homes in rural areas, would receive $100 million. These grants are usually available only to homeowners age 62 or older, but that age restriction would be waived for this pool of funds. The requirement that homeowners have very low incomes would remain in place.

The bill would also provide significant funding for numerous HUD programs including $35 billion for HOME and $8.5 billion for Community Development Block Grants. The colonias on the U.S.-Mexico border would receive a $1 billion setaside of CDBG funds.

The  Financial Services Committee will mark up this bill on September 13. (At the same session the committee will also consider two other bills, one to assist renters in the wake of the Supreme Court’s invalidation of the federal eviction moratorium, and one to reauthorize the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act.)

All funds appropriated through the reconciliation bill would be in addition to the usual annual funding for these programs. Congress has not completed work on USDA’s or HUD’s annual appropriations for fiscal year 2022, which begins on October 1, 2021. The year is likely to begin with a continuing resolution holding programs at their FY21 levels.

Policy News from the Administration

HAC Agrees with HUD Fair Housing Rule

HAC has submitted a comment letter supporting HUD’s proposed cancellation of a fair housing regulation issued by the Trump administration in September 2020. This rule governs fair housing violation claims based on policies or actions with “disparate impacts” on categories of people protected by the Fair Housing Act.

The 2020 HUD rule, which would have made it more difficult to prove a disparate impact claim, never went into effect. A federal judge issued an injunction that left a 2013 disparate impact regulation in place while a lawsuit against the 2020 version was underway.

In June 2021, HUD proposed to reinstate the 2013 rule. HAC – along with thousands of others – supports that action.

As HAC’s comments pointed out:

Fair access to housing is essential. Research shows that decent, affordable housing improves residents’ physical and mental health, their ability to hold jobs, their children’s performance in school. Children’s life chances are deeply impacted by the neighborhoods where they grow up. Enforcing the Fair Housing Act against discrimination, both intended and incidental, helps our nation move towards inclusive and equitable rural, urban and suburban communities, where all residents can thrive.