• Twitter
    • Fan us on Facebook
    • Contact us

“Spending Turnaround at USDA is Good News for Rural Families”

Bob Rapoza wrote an article on USDA Section 502 spending in FY 2015 that was published by Government Executive today.  In the article, Bob discusses the importance of the home loan program for rural communities, the role that Under Secretary Lisa Mensah played in ensuring the success of the program, and the bipartisan support for the home loan program on the Hill. To read the article, please click here. Bob is the Executive Secretary of the National Rural Housing Coalition and the founder and president of Rapoza Associates, a public interest lobbying and government relations firm in...
read more

Why HOME Program Funding Matters

There is a substantial need for housing resources across our nation’s small town and farming communities.  Although homeownership is the predominate type of housing available in rural America, rural housing is much more likely to be substandard than in urban areas. In fact, six percent of rural homes are either moderately or severely substandard, often with leaking roofs, or inadequate plumbing or heating systems.  Affordability issues also plague rural communities, with some eight million rural families paying more than 30% of income for housing, and 23% of all rural families paying more than 35% of income for shelter.  To improve the quality and affordability of housing in their communities, local governments and nonprofit groups rely, in part, on HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME program) funding. Authorized by the Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act of 1990 (PL 101-625), the HOME program was designed to benefit low and very-low income Americans by increasing federal support for affordable housing.  Since its creation in 1990, the HOME program has financed more than 1.1 million affordable homes for low and very-low income households. The HOME program, administered by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, provides federal block grants to states, local governments, and consortia, called Participating Jurisdictions or PJs, which use the funding to develop and support affordable housing in their communities.  All PJs are required to provide matching contributions of at least 25% of the HOME funds spent for tenant-based rental assistance, rehabilitation, acquisition, and new construction, although the matching requirement can be reduced for PJs experiencing financial distress or severe financial distress. PJs use HOME grants to support a variety of activities to meet the specific housing needs of their communities.  Some activities include site acquisition, site improvements, demolition, and relocation.  PJs also use HOME funding as a source of critical gap financing to ensure the success so rental housing funded with the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit or other federal, state, or local housing projects.  HOME funds can be used for both permanent and rental housing.   All PJs must commit HOME funds within 24 months of receipt, and they must be expended within five years.  Although there is no set-aside for rural areas under the HOME program, states receive 40 percent of HOME funds each year, which may in turn be used by smaller and rural communities. While most HUD programs have limited utility for rural communities, the structure...
read more

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee FY16 THUD Bill Drastically Cuts HOME Program

On Tuesday, June 23, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) proposed to fund the HOME Investment Partnerships program (HOME) for FY16 at just $66 million, only 7 percent of the FY15 amount ($900 million).  Such a drastic cut will result in long-term consequences.  While NRHC is aware that the country is facing budget constraints, we implore members of Congress to work together to develop a budget that will restore the HOME program. Authorized in 1990, the HOME program is a locally-driven block grant program that is vitally important to improving the quality of life of rural Americans.  Since 1992, the HOME program has created more than one million affordable homes.  State and local governments have used HOME funds to produce 495,609 home buyer homes, 466,861 rental homes, and 231,928 rehabilitated owner-occupied homes. Additionally, 298,391 families have received tenant-based rental assistance through the HOME program. The HOME program provides grants to state and local governments, which use the funds to directly benefit the low and very-low income families in rural communities across the nation.  HOME funds are used to provide tenant-based rental assistance; housing rehabilitation; assistance to home buyers; and new construction of housing.  For example, the Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC) makes funding available to nonprofit developers, for-profit developers and Community Housing Development Organizations to provide zero interest (3 percent for for-profit developers) through the HOME Homeownership Program.   The Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprises (FAHE) worked with the city government in Beattyville, Kentucky to construct two affordable rental duplexes utilizing HOME funds.  The duplexes were occupied one month after completion, and rented for $358 per month to families with incomes below 80 percent of AMI.  For more HOME program success stories, please visit our fact page. Continuation of the HOME program is especially crucial now, given the current state of America’s housing.  In the United States, 15.6 percent of all households, were severely housing cost-burdened.  A little more than 13 percent of all rural households are extremely cost burdened, meaning that they spend 50 percent or more of their monthly income on housing costs.  Almost 40 percent of cost burdened rural households are renters. Nearly one-third of rural renters have incomes below the poverty level, and nearly 6 percent of homes in rural communities are considered moderately or severely substandard. If funding for the HOME program is reduced to $66 million in FY 16, compared to the President’s...
read more