Homelessness is a Housing Issue, Not a Crime

Housing Assistance Council CEO’s Statement on Supreme Court’s Ruling in Grants Pass v. Johnson

July 2, 2024 – The Supreme Court ruled last week that people experiencing homelessness can be punished by their local government simply because there is not enough housing or shelter available for everyone to have a place to sleep at night. The Court had an opportunity to help address the nation’s housing crisis, but instead came out in favor of persecuting the poor with fines and jail sentences.

Homelessness is solved by providing housing that is available and affordable for everyone in a community. The Court’s decision overlooks the lack of affordable housing that drives homelessness in rural areas like Grants Pass, Oregon, and elsewhere across the United States. It ignores extensive evidence that demonstrates housing with social services is the effective way to address homelessness. It disregards how unusually hard it is to get a job or an education when experiencing homelessness, and how cruel it is to add a criminal record to the mix.

The Housing Assistance Council calls on local officials to reject the idea that homelessness is a crime. If your small town is facing a housing shortage, please contact us. We will do everything in our power to help you address the conditions that lead to homelessness in rural America and to improve U.S. national housing policy.

David Lipsetz
President and CEO
Housing Assistance Council

HAC in the News

Rural Veterans and Local Nonprofits Receive Critical Housing Support in partnership with The Home Depot Foundation

Contacts: AHRV Team, ahrv@ruralhome.org
(202) 842-8600

Washington, DC, June 10, 2024 – Veterans and their families in fourteen rural communities will have better lives, thanks to The Home Depot Foundation and the Housing Assistance Council. The Foundation is awarding grants totaling $472,000 to sixteen local nonprofit housing agencies around the country to preserve housing for veterans in rural America.

The grants are part of The Home Depot Foundation’s mission to provide affordable and accessible housing solutions to U.S. veterans and invest $750 million in veteran causes by 2030. Many veterans and their families face major housing challenges, often exacerbated by issues related to unemployment, age, and service-related disabilities. The Home Depot Foundation and the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) are dedicated to giving back to those who have answered the highest call of service to our nation.

As part of its Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans (AHRV) Initiative, HAC works with The Home Depot Foundation to administer grants that bolster and support the work of rural nonprofit housing agencies to deliver critical housing support to veterans. “The Home Depot Foundation’s enduring partnership and support stands as an important pillar in HAC’s ongoing efforts to bolster and grow the capacity of local rural organizations dedicated to providing and preserving decent, safe, and affordable housing options for veterans across rural America.” said David Lipsetz, HAC’s CEO.  As rural America is home to a disproportionately high number of service women and men, HAC remains deeply committed to supporting our nation’s service women and men by uplifting local nonprofits and their work to house veterans and ensure the habitability of their homes and rural communities.

The grantee organizations – described below – provide a range of programs. With the grants, veterans who own homes in California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Tennessee will obtain critical repair assistance. Altogether, 101 veterans and their families will benefit from these grants.

About The Home Depot Foundation 

The Home Depot Foundation

The Home Depot Foundation, the nonprofit arm of The Home Depot (NYSE: HD), works to improve the homes and lives of U.S. veterans, support communities impacted by natural disasters and train skilled tradespeople to fill the labor gap. Since 2011, the Foundation has invested more than $500 million in veteran causes and improved more than 60,000 veteran homes and facilities. The Foundation has pledged to invest $750 million in veteran causes by 2030 and $50 million in training the next generation of skilled tradespeople through the Path to Pro program by 2028. To learn more about The Home Depot Foundation visit HomeDepotFoundation.organd follow us on Twitter @HomeDepotFound and on Facebook and Instagram @HomeDepotFoundation.

About the Housing Assistance Council

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) is a national nonprofit that supports affordable housing efforts throughout rural America. Since 1971, HAC has provided below-market financing for affordable housing and community development, technical assistance and training, research and information, and policy formulation to enable solutions for rural communities.

To learn more about the Housing Assistance Council, visit www.ruralhome.org and follow HAC on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter @RuralHome.

About the Grantees

  • Appalachia Service Project, Johnson City, TN, will utilize $30,000 to provide critical repairs for twenty (20) low-income veterans across rural Central Appalachia. For additional information on Appalachia Service Project, visit their website at https://asphome.org/.
  • Chesapeake Health Education Program, Inc., Perryville, MD, will utilize $40,000 to complete repairs on two (2) transitional housing units serving six (6) male veterans in Perry Point, MD. For additional information on Chesapeake Health Education Program, Inc., visit their website at https://www.chepinc.org/.
  • GROW South Dakota, Sisseton, SD, will utilize $30,000 to provide critical home repairs for three (3) rural, low-income veterans in Sisseton, SD. For additional information on GROW South Dakota, visit their website at https://www.growsd.org/.
  • Habitat for Humanity Menominee River, Kingsford, MI, will utilize $30,000 to assist eight (8) veteran households with critical repairs in rural Iron and Dickinson Counties, MI. For additional information on Habitat for Humanity of Menominee River, visit their website at https://habitatmr.com/.
  • Habitat for Humanity of Tulare/Kings Counties, Inc., Visalia, CA, will utilize $30,000 to address critical roof repair and replacement on the homes of three (3) low-income veterans residing in Lemoore, CA. For additional information on Habitat for Humanity of Tulare/Kings Counties, Inc., visit their website at https://www.hfhtkc.org/.
  • Habitat for Humanity of York County, Rock Hill, SC, will utilize $30,000 to address four (4) critical home repair projects located in York County, SC. For additional information on Habitat for Humanity of York County, visit their website at https://yorkcountyhabitat.org/.
  • NeighborWorks Umpqua, Roseburg, OR, will utilize $30,000 to provide ten (10) veterans with critical home repairs and ductless HVAC units in Coos, Curry, and Douglas Counties, OR. For additional information on NeighborWorks Umpqua, visit their website at https://www.nwumpqua.org/.
  • New Foundation Development, Inc., Calhoun, GA, will utilize $30,000 to provide critical repairs and ADA accessibility modifications for three (3) low-income rural veteran homeowners in Resaca and Calhoun, GA. For additional information on New Foundation Development, Inc., visit their website at https://nfdinc.org/.
  • Rebuilding Together Fargo Moorhead Area, Fargo, ND, will utilize $30,000 to support the rehabilitation and modification of three (3) veteran owned units in Cass and Richland Counties, ND, and Clay County, MN. For additional information on Rebuilding Together Fargo Moorhead Area, visit their website at https://rebuildingtogetherfma.org/.
  • Rebuilding Together Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, will utilize $30,000 to provide critical repairs and/or accessibility modifications for four (4) low-income veteran homeowners in Cottonwood, Jackson, Murray, and Nobles Counties, MN. For additional information on Rebuilding Together Minnesota, visit their website at https://rtmn.org/.
  • Rebuilding Together Saratoga County, Ballston Spa, NY, will utilize $30,000 to provide critical repairs and ADA accessibility modifications for four (4) low-income rural veteran homeowners in rural Warren County, NY. For additional information on Rebuilding Together Saratoga County, visit their website at https://www.rtsaratoga.org/
  • Rebuilding Together Southwest Illinois, Edwardsville, IL, will utilize $30,000 to provide wheelchair ramps and related necessary repairs and renovations to at least ten (10) rural owner-occupied homes of disabled veterans in Macoupin and Bond Counties, IL. For additional information on Rebuilding Together Southwest Illinois, visit their website at https://rebuildswi.org/.
  • ReFIT-Remodeling for Independence Together, Lake Oswego, OR, will utilize $27,000 to complete critical home repairs and accessibility modifications on eight (8) low-income Veteran owner-occupied homes, with a focus on rural Clackamas County, OR. For additional information on ReFIT-Remodeling for Independence Together, visit their website at https://refitportland.org/.
  • Transylvania Habitat for Humanity, Brevard, NC, will utilize $15,000 to provide critical repairs and accessibility modifications for at least four (4) low-income rural veteran homeowners in Transylvania County, NC. For additional information on Transylvania Habitat for Humanity, visit their website at https://transylvaniahabitat.org/.
  • WAMY Community Action, Inc., Boone, NC, will utilize $30,000 to provide critical repairs to preserve four (4) low-income rural Veteran owned homes in rural Appalachia. For additional information on WAMY Community Action, Inc., visit their website at  https://wamycommunityaction.org/.

Creating A Better Understanding of Farmworker Communities and Their Housing Conditions

Farmworker Dynamics Have Shifted Over the Last Few Decades

U.S. agriculture, a multibillion-dollar industry, has been made possible by cheap farmworker labor. As one of the most impoverished groups in the nation, farmworkers earn low wages and experience working conditions that hinder their ability to access affordable housing. This situation is further exacerbated by many legal, cultural, and geographic circumstances that often keep this population in the shadows of American society and contribute to their economic marginalization.

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) has undertaken a review of U.S. farmworkers and their housing to provide a deeper understanding of these individuals, their historical impact, and their quality of life within this country.

Download the Report

HAC FW Rural Research Brief_Final_4.30.24

Empowering Veterans Through Collaborative Housing Initiatives: Insights from the 2023 National Rural Housing Conference

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) is dedicated to supporting those who have answered the highest call of service to our nation. Our Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans (AHRV) Initiative aids local nonprofit housing organizations in improving housing conditions for veterans in their communities with support from The Home Depot Foundation. The brick-and-mortar projects that AHRV funds provide critical home repair, rehab, and construction for low-income, elderly, homeless, and/or disabled veterans. All this support is tailored to meet the specific needs of veterans in each community.

At HAC’s 2023 National Rural Housing Conference, the Veterans Stakeholder Meeting convened practitioners from around the country to share ideas and best practices. The centerpiece of the meeting was a series of presentations from a panel that included:

  • Karen Boyce, Managing Director of The Veterans’ Place, Inc. (TVPI), a transitional home for homeless veterans in Northfield, Vermont;
  • AB Bustos and Amber Morson, Homeless Veteran Program Managers at the Texas Veterans Commission (TVC), an organization that advocates for and provides services that will improve the lives of Texas veterans and their families; and
  • Miguel Chacon, Executive Director of A.Y.U.D.A. INC, an organization that provides assistance programs to low-income individuals and families in El Paso County, Texas, including affordable housing, rental assistance, and community health worker training.

Housing organizations from across the country benefited from hearing detailed presentations on housing efforts and gained insights on how organizations can work to better support veterans. Here are four key takeaways from the meeting:

  • 1. Incremental changes in language can make veterans more responsive to community partnerships.

    When asked “are you a veteran?” many former servicemembers, especially women and people who were discharged under other than honorable conditions, tend to answer “no.” Others may not consider themselves veterans because they never saw combat. The Homeless Veteran Program of the Texas Veterans Commission (TVC) found that a small change—asking “did you serve?”—has helped them identify more veterans who qualify for programs, some of which are open to all veterans, regardless of their type of discharge.

    This small change has generated such an increase in response that TVC has begun a statewide awareness campaign to encourage other local and nonprofit support programs to make the same phrasing change in an effort to identify more eligible veterans. Because TVC works with a wide range of supportive programs—education, employment, mental health, homelessness, and more—it emphasizes the connectedness of housing to the broader ecosystem of community support. A simple change in the language used to identify veterans can help housing organizations—and supportive programs of all stripes—across the country reach a wider net of people who need support after answering the highest call of service to our nation.

  • 2. Housing is part of a broader ecosystem of support.

    Organizations that open doors to collaboration can provide better support for the veterans they serve. In the Veterans Stakeholder Meeting, the team from the Veterans’ Place explained that they had noted an increase in the average age of veterans looking for housing. So, TVPI adapted their approach by reaching out to supportive housing organizations, like those providing assisted living, to find resources within their area for senior veterans.

    When organizations work with other groups and community programs, they often find partnerships they did not know were available to them. That’s why it’s important that the National Rural Housing Conference brings together practitioners from across the country, including many who work in housing-adjacent fields, like community health. The network of peers for housing organizations includes other organizations and local services. For example, healthcare institutions can play an important role in the support that housing organizations provide and vice versa. Housing is deeply connected to health, which becomes especially apparent when a veteran is living with mold, when a home that isn’t accessible for their disability, or when they’re recovering from challenges like PTSD or substance use disorder. The support that housing organizations goes further when it works in concert with other community services.

  • 3. It is crucial for housers to learn from a network of peers.

    In the Veterans Stakeholder Meeting, the panel was asked, “how do you start from ground zero?” Some of the meeting’s participants wanted to know how their housing organizations could expand into supporting veterans but didn’t know how to take the first step in building a network of support. One answer was for organizations to look for assistance within their community. The Veterans’ Place emphasized the importance of being willing to ask for help and of networking with other organizations, including housers in nearby areas. Groups like HAC and the Texas Veterans Commission that bring peer organizations together and connect them with resources act as force multipliers. By building connections among practitioners—both those with established veterans programs and those without—HAC provides a crucial service to the ecosystem of veterans housing.

  • 4. One size does not fit all for veteran housing assistance.

    Every veteran has their own unique story and lived experience. Placing all who served into the same category and assuming they face the exact same challenges is an ineffective approach to housing assistance. Recognizing this, the Veterans’ Place tailors its services to the needs of the individual. With open door policies and peer support, the Veterans’ Place emphasizes establishing boundaries and individual-specific systems when it comes to veteran housing. The Veterans Stakeholder Meeting proved the importance of this individualized approach across all housing programs, as organizations understand the unique needs of every veteran and continue to implement services that work for them.

The National Rural Housing Conference brought together practitioners from across the country. By sharing ideas as broad as the importance of partnership and as specific as the nitty-gritty of how a question is asked, these leaders learned lessons they can put into practice in their communities. As each community tailors these best practices to meet the specific needs of their veterans, HAC and The Home Depot Foundation will be there, supporting the local initiatives that bring us one step closer to a nation in which all veterans can have a healthy, accessible, and affordable place to call home.

HAC Seeks Proposals for its 2024 Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans (AHRV) Initiative

HAC’s Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans (AHRV) Initiative supports local nonprofit housing development organizations that meet or help meet the affordable housing needs of veterans with low incomes in rural places. Grants typically range up to $30,000 per organization and must support bricks-and-mortar projects that assist low-income, elderly and/or disabled veterans with critical home repair, accessibility modifications, support homeless veterans, help veterans become homeowners, and/or secure affordable rental housing.

HAC’s AHRV Initiative is funded through the generous support of The Home Depot Foundation. Applications are due by 4:00PM (EST) on or before Monday, January 22, 2024. For more information, contact HAC staff, ahrv@ruralhome.org. No phone calls please. Program staff will be available to answer questions during the Grant Funding Opportunity HAC 2024 AHRV RFP Overview webinar on January 10, 2024, at 2PM (ET).

Download the Application Package: Application (WORD) | Application Guidelines | Webinar Presentation

Download Application (WORD) Application Guidelines Webinar Presentation

A Methodological Approach to Estimate Residential Heirs’ Property in the United States

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC), in partnership with Fannie Mae, developed a methodology to estimate the prevalence of heirs’ properties in two categories, most likely heirs’ properties and properties that are at risk of currently being or soon becoming heirs’ properties throughout the United States. Slightly over 500,000 properties were identified as potential heirs’ properties with nearly two thirds (64.6%) located in rural areas.  Despite challenges including the lack of uniformity of tax assessment data collection and reporting, the conservative estimated assessed value of identified heirs’ properties is $32.3 billion in 44 states and the District of Columbia.

Taking Stock of Rural America



First published in 1984, Taking Stock is a decennial research publication of the Housing Assistance Council. The 2023 edition of Taking Stock continues this legacy of presenting social, economic, and housing trends for rural places and rural people.

In the early 1980s, the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) published its initial Taking Stock report. This seminal work was one of the first comprehensive assessments of rural housing and rural poverty conditions in the United States. The first Taking Stock also exposed the plight and housing need of the nation’s high poverty rural areas. HAC’s decennial Taking Stock analysis continued in 1990, 2000, and 2010 and has increasingly expanded to cover a broader scope of social, economic, and housing trends in rural areas. The 2023 edition of Taking Stock continues its legacy of presenting a composite picture of trends and issues important to rural people, places, and housing.

Rural Voices - Recovery in Rural America - Cover

Rural Voices: Recovery in Rural America: Housing Helps Address the Substance Use Disorder Crisis

In 2021, 46.3 million people in the U.S. were diagnosed with substance use disorders, including 6.7 million rural residents. From December 2021 to December 2022, approximately 105,000 lives were lost due to the overdose epidemic. Many rural communities and households have been impacted by this epidemic through the loss of loved ones, incarceration, chronic homelessness, mental and behavioral health challenges, and more. In some rural communities, every household has been impacted by substance use disorders.

This issue of Rural Voices highlights innovative approaches to providing housing for residents in recovery with a cross-sector analysis of successful collaborative approaches to addressing the issues associated with substance use disorders.

Rural Voices - Recovery in Rural America - Cover



Let’s Get to Work on Fighting the Housing and Substance Use Crises
by Senator Tina Smith

Minnesota continues to make progress in supporting its rural communities.


Addressing Substance Use in Rural America
by Dave Johnson

The Fletcher Group uses an innovative housing model and ground-breaking research.

Housing Finds its Niche in Supporting SUD Recovery in Kentucky
by Tom Manning-Beavin

Frontier Housing rehabilitates and finances suitable properties to provide safe and stable homes for those in recovery.

The National Alliance for Recovery Residences Standards

NARR provides national standards for effective, safe, and quality recovery residences.

Andy’s Place: Michigan’s First Permanent Recovery Supportive Housing Development
by Bob Beck

Housing has the power to make a difference in addressing the opioid crisis.

Action on the Opioid Epidemic and Rural Affordable Housing
by Alan Morgan

Rural advocates can act on the opioid epidemic and connected housing needs.

Bringing Mental Health Support and Resources to Northeast Oklahoma
by Denise Phelps

GRAND Mental Health offers an array of services for those experiencing homelessness, mental health crisis, and drug/alcohol emergencies.

HAC’s Inaugural Affordable Housing and Recovery Cohort

HAC shares resources and builds the capacity of organizations working to address their communities’ substance use disorder crises.


Download this infographic: PNG | JPG | PDF

Rural Voices would like to hear what you have to say about one, or all, of these issues. Please comment on these stories by sending a tweet to #RuralVoices, discuss on the Rural Affordable Housing Group on LinkedIn, or on our Facebook page.

Maria Chavira cooks tortillas, eggs, and beans inside her home

HAC Announces Beneficiaries for Accessible & Universal Design Workshop Series

In rural areas, approximately one in three adults lives with a disability. Rural America also has a higher proportion of older residents than the nation as a whole. There is a pressing need to address the unique housing challenges facing these vulnerable populations. To empower rural communities with the necessary skills and expertise to do just that, we are excited to share that HAC has chosen 30 individuals from 27 organizations to participate in our exclusive Accessible and Universal Design workshop series.

Thanks to funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, this workshop series aims to equip participants with the latest tools and best practices tailored to address the unique challenges faced by rural communities. Shonterria Charleston, HAC’s Director of Training and Technical Assistance, emphasized, “rural residents living with disabilities encounter various obstacles. In recognition of Disability Pride Month, HAC is pleased to offer the Accessible and Universal Design Learning Series. This series is designed to highlight essential resources, expand capacity, and enrich expertise that empowers rural communities to implement inclusive housing programs that address the needs of all residents.”

A summary of the selected participants and the list of awarded organizations can be found below.

Workshop Series Summary

The Housing Assistance Council’s (HAC) Accessible and Universal Design workshop series is an opportunity to learn how housing activities can address the accessibility, mobility, and design needs of every client. This series will provide 30 housing professionals with the foundation, skills, and real-world examples needed to design and reimagine housing programs that support the changing needs of clients at every stage of life.

Through the learning series, HAC will guide participants on integrating accessible and universal design principles into their housing design and construction activities. By focusing on factors such as accessibility, mobility, and design flexibility, attendees will gain valuable insights on how to meet the diverse needs of community members.

Selected Organizations

  • Alaska Community Development Corp
  • Bishop Sheen Ecumenical Housing Foundation, Inc.
  • CAC of Fayette County
  • Caroline County Habitat for Humanity
  • City of Excelsior Springs
  • Community Outreach Housing
  • Community Ventures
  • Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (2 participants)
  • Fauquier Habitat for Humanity
  • Habitat for Humanity of Portage County (2 participants)
  • Habitat for Humanity of Wisconsin River Area
  • Impact Educational and Housing Development
  • Kent Attainable Housing, Inc.
  • Lakeway Area Habitat for Humanity
  • Mountain Projects, Inc.
  • MS Delta Housing Program, Inc.
  • PathStone Corporation
  • Penquis CAP
  • Pensacola Habitat for Humanity (2 participants)
  • Project BEE
  • Purple Heart Homes
  • Red Cliff Chippewa Housing Authority
  • RUPCO, Inc
  • Rural Alaska Community Action Program, Inc., (RurAL CAP)
  • Southside Outreach Group, Inc.
  • TCAC Tennessee’s Community Assistance Corporation
  • Transylvania Habitat for Humanity
Policy News town

HAC’s Comments on Duty to Serve – July 2023

The FHFA requested comments on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s Duty to Serve plans as part of their annual Duty to Serve Listening Sessions. Jonathan Harwitz, HAC’s Director of Public Policy, provided oral comments, accompanied by longer written comments, on behalf of HAC. If implemented robustly, Duty to Serve has the potential to improve the lives of people living in the most underserved communities. HAC’s comments focused on:

  • Maintaining USDA Section 515 preservation as a core goal of the rural Duty to Serve Plans;
  • Permitting targeted equity investments in CDFIs;
  • Using, and further refining, the new Colonias Census Tract definition; and
  • Meeting rural LIHTC equity investment goals.

Read HAC’s full comments.

HAC DTS Rural Listening Session Comments