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Rural Housing Coalition Celebrates 50 Years of Improving Housing Conditions Across America

Over 40 rural organizations gathered in Washington, DC to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the National Rural Housing Coalition

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — The Board of Directors of the National Rural Housing Coalition (NRHC) held a two-day meeting on December 3-4, 2019, in Washington D.C., marking the coalition’s 50th Anniversary. A commemorative pin and poster was released by the coalition this week and a page documenting NRHC’s 5 decades of advocacy is featured on the organization’s website. In addition, a reception to honor NRHC’s anniversary and accomplishments was also held on December 3rd on Capitol Hill, with Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) providing a keynote.

For 50 years, the National Rural Housing Coalition has worked diligently to promote and defend the principle that rural people have the right — regardless of income — to a decent, affordable place to live, clean drinking water, and basic community services.

“NRHC, a national membership organization that advocates for improved housing and community facilities in America’s small town and farming communities, has 120 members located in rural and farming communities across the country,” said Bob Rapoza, executive secretary of the National Rural Housing Coalition. “For 50 years, our members have worked diligently to promote and defend the principle that rural people have the right — regardless of income — to a decent, affordable place to live, clean drinking water, and basic community services.”

Rep. Costa, during his remarks at the reception, noted the significant contributions that federal rural housing programs have made to improving housing conditions in his rural, Central Valley District. The Congressman also noted the importance of a Mutual-Self Help Housing in helping low-income families build their own homes and gain equity.

The two-day meeting was designed to inform the board on federal housing and community development policy. The board heard from officials from the USDA Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service, staff from the Office of Comptroller of Currency and the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund. Bob Rapoza reported on the current status of rural housing appropriations in Congress.

The Board meets twice a year to discuss current federal policy and legislation. Beyond getting a status report on Congress and from federal agencies, the board mapped out its policy initiatives for the New Year.

“Throughout its history, NRHC has been at the forefront in pushing for better federal rural housing policy, and we will continue building on that success in the years ahead,” Rapoza said.

About the National Rural Housing Coalition

NRHC is a national membership organization comprised of nonprofit housing organizations, housing developers, state and local officials, and housing advocates. Since 1969, has NRHC worked to focus policy makers on the needs of rural areas through direct advocacy and by coordinating a network of rural housing advocates around the nation. NRHC regularly sponsors conferences to develop specific policies and legislative proposals with direct input from housing experts in the field.

Contact: Bob Rapoza
National Rural Housing Coalition
1155 15th St NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: (202) 393-5225
Fax (202) 393-3034

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Blog

House FY 2020 Appropriations Requests

The deadline for requests to the House Agriculture subcommittee of Appropriations is April 4th. If you have not done so, we urge you to contact your Representative now. Members are inundated with requests, so the sooner your rural housing request are in, the more time staff will have to process and include them in their Boss’s request to the Committee.

Below you will also find templates for House Appropriations Ag Subcommittee requests for rural housing programs.

FY 2020 Approps Request Form 502

FY 2020 Approps Request Form_Section 515 Rural Rental Housing Loans

FY 2020 RCDI Request

FY 2020 Self-Help Request Form

FY 2020 Approps Request Form_Section 516-514

 

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Blog

Congress Deals Rural Housing Organizations a Mixed Hand

PRESS RELEASE

Contact: Bob Rapoza
National Rural Housing Coalition
1331 G St NW, 10th Floor
Washington, DC  20005
Phone: (202) 393-5225
Fax (202) 393-3034

Congress holds on passing rural housing funding, despite strong indications for the need and history of strong bipartisan support

Washington, D.C. -- October 1, 2018 -- On Friday, the House of Representatives adjourned to focus on the midterm elections, while the Senate stays behind to continue working on nominations. The National Rural Housing Coalition (NRHC) lamented Congress’ inability to work out issues in H.R. 6147, which includes U.S. Department of Agriculture funding, as well as Interior, Treasury, Transportation and HUD. While the unresolved issues did not involve USDA Rural Housing appropriations, it still leaves funding up in the air for these important programs until at least mid-November. However, the Coalition was pleased with a new Senate bill proposing the single largest investment in rural housing programs, which was introduced last week by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

“We are in the middle of a rural housing crisis with only about 10 percent of new homes being built in rural areas, leaving unaffordable, aged and increasingly decrepit housing as the only options for rural Americans,” said Bob Rapoza, executive secretary of the National Rural Housing Coalition. “Congress needs to make more investments and ensure that USDA rural housing are secure and fully funded.”

The rental housing financed by USDA, mostly through its Section 515 Rural Rental Housing program, is often the only affordable housing in small towns and farming communities. According to a 2016 USDA report, the cost to preserve and maintain this portfolio of some 450,000 units over 20 years totals $5.6 billion. The majority of residents at these developments are low income and most are elderly households.

“Rural Americans were some of those hardest hit by the Great Recession and with a lack of decent, safe, and affordable rural housing they are now being left behind from its recovery,” said Rapoza. “The lack of decent housing is increasingly an obstacle to economic growth for rural communities, causing businesses to locate elsewhere and perpetuating high out-migration from communities already struggling to attract a high-skilled workforce.”

The Wall Street Journal reported on this very issue in May. In an article titled, “Rural America Has Jobs. Now It Just Needs Housing,” the author noted that due to a lack of housing in rural areas, employers with available jobs could not find workers because they had no suitable place to live. Analysis from the Housing Assistance Council of 2010 Census data further validates this assertion. That data revealed that only 25 million housing units are located in rural and small communities of the approximately 116 million occupied housing units available in the United States. In addition, 1.5 million of these homes are considered either moderately or severely substandard. Although most Americans take indoor plumbing and potable water at the tap for granted, it is unavailable to the 4 percent of rural occupied units.

On the matter of housing affordability in rural communities, a recent report by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies found that 5 million households of rural renters are cost-burdened, meaning that renters pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing costs. In fact, 21 percent (2.1 million households) of rural households that rent pay more than 50 percent of income for housing.

NRHC notes that rural housing is not without its advocates in Congress. Republican-passed Appropriations bills have largely ignored the Administration’s proposals to decrease rural housing funding. Further, this week, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act of 2018. The legislation responds to the lack of affordable housing in America and includes provisions to increase funding for the rural housing programs administered USDA. Reps. Sean Duffy (R-WI), Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Jim Costa (D-CA) have argued to support these federal rural housing programs through the annual appropriations process.

“The bill is a historic investment that would improve the quality of rural housing and decrease housing costs for rural families,” says Rapoza. ”It would double section 502 loans to $2 billion, provide $500 million to rehabilitate and preserve rural rental housing, finance an estimated 6,000 units of farm-labor housing, and more than double section 523 Self-Help Housing grants to $75 million. This investment in rural housing attacks the problem head-on and saves money by accelerating the timetable for preservation and repair.”

For more information about rural housing and community development, please visit the National Rural Housing Coalition’s webpage.

About the National Rural Housing Coalition

NRHC is a national membership organization of non-profit housing organizations, housing developers, state and local officials, and housing advocates. Since 1969, NRHC has promoted and defended the principle that rural people have the right—regardless of income—to a decent, affordable place to live, clean drinking water, and basic community services.

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Blog Self-Help

Neighbors build each other’s homes in Wasco

ABOVE: Edgar and Naomi Bermudez shuffle rock that will be used for the foundation of their new home in Wasco.


Dozens of families in Wasco are building new homes for each other, taking part in a program funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and guided by the nonprofit, Self Help Enterprises.

The new homeowners don’t need a dollar for a down payment. Instead, they are required to do 40 hours of work on the home every week. The development in Wasco consists of 33 homes, with 10-12 in each of three waves.

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Blog Self-Help

Self-Help Homes groundbreaking in Provo, UT

Construction begins for seven families in Provo, Utah. Project supported by Self-Help Homes.

FULL STORY: Seven families in Southern Utah are anxious to get started on what will be their new homes. A groundbreaking ceremony in LaVerkin last Wednesday turned over shovels of dirt, that will soon become a foundation. Four of the new homes will be built in LaVerkin and the other three in Toquerville.

The families are part of Self-Help Homes. They all received low interest loans from the government to build each others homes. The program is growing in Southern Utah as word continues to get out.

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Blog Budget

Dear Colleague: Support Adequate Funding for USDA Rural Housing Service in the FY19 Budget

Congressmen Sean Duffy (R-WI) and Jim Costa (D-CA) are leading a Dear Colleague in support of USDA Rural Housing programs. Below, find the letter.


Support Adequate Funding for USDA Rural Housing Service in the FY19 Budget
DEADLINE: March 12, 2018

Dear Colleague,
Please join Representatives Sean Duffy and Jim Costa in sending the following letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies to respectfully request adequate funding for United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Housing and water sewer programs.

USDA Rural Housing programs provide a critical lifeline to low-income, rural families. Through low-cost loans, grants, and other assistance, USDA programs improve housing conditions and quality of life in rural America.

For example Section 502 Direct Loan Program, which has helped more than 2.1 million families realize the American Dream and build their wealth by more than $40 billion, is the only federal homeownership program that exclusively targets low- and very-low income rural families. The program provides essential funding to fill in the gap in the private market, allowing families who would otherwise be unable to access affordable mortgage credit achieve homeownership.

The Section 523 Mutual Self-Help Housing program is another critical component of USDA’s Rural Housing initiatives. Self-Help Housing, which celebrated its 50 year anniversary and 50,000th family served in 2015, is the only federal program that combines “sweat equity” homeownership opportunities with technical assistance and affordable loans for some of America’s neediest rural families.

Rural water –sewer loans and grants are essential for building communities.

Our rural communities are in dire need of affordable, livable housing. Please join us in supporting rural districts all over the country by signing this letter.
Please contact Ryan McCormack in Rep. Duffy’s office (Ryan.McCormack@mail.house.gov) or Ben Goldeen in Rep. Costa’s office (Ben.Goldeen@mail.house.gov) if you would like to sign or have further questions.

Support Adequate Funding for USDA Rural Housing Service in the FY19 Budget
Sending Office: Honorable Sean P. Duffy
Sent By: Ryan.McCormack@mail.house.gov

Support Adequate Funding for USDA Rural Housing Service in the FY19 Budget

DEADLINE: March 12, 2018

Dear Colleague,

Please join Representatives Sean Duffy and Jim Costa in sending the following letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies to respectfully request adequate funding for United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Housing and water sewer programs.

USDA Rural Housing programs provide a critical lifeline to low-income, rural families. Through low-cost loans, grants, and other assistance, USDA programs improve housing conditions and quality of life in rural America.

For example Section 502 Direct Loan Program, which has helped more than 2.1 million families realize the American Dream and build their wealth by more than $40 billion, is the only federal homeownership program that exclusively targets low- and very-low income rural families. The program provides essential funding to fill in the gap in the private market, allowing families who would otherwise be unable to access affordable mortgage credit achieve homeownership.

The Section 523 Mutual Self-Help Housing program is another critical component of USDA’s Rural Housing initiatives. Self-Help Housing, which celebrated its 50 year anniversary and 50,000th family served in 2015, is the only federal program that combines “sweat equity” homeownership opportunities with technical assistance and affordable loans for some of America’s neediest rural families.

Rural water –sewer loans and grants are essential for building communities.

Our rural communities are in dire need of affordable, livable housing. Please join us in supporting rural districts all over the country by signing this letter.

Please contact Ryan McCormack in Rep. Duffy’s office (Ryan.McCormack@mail.house.gov) or Ben Goldeen in Rep. Costa’s office (Ben.Goldeen@mail.house.gov) if you would like to sign or have further questions.

_______________________________________________________________________
Dear Chairman Aderholt and Ranking Member Bishop:

As the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies considers the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY 19) Appropriations Bill, we write to respectfully request adequate funding for United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Housing Programs and Rural Water-Sewer program.

Access to safe, decent, and affordable housing can transform lives. Yet, due to lower incomes and higher poverty rates, far too many rural families live in housing that is too expensive, in substandard condition, or both. According to U.S. Census data, approximately, 1.5 million rural homes—or about 5.9 percent—are in substandard condition. The poverty rate for rural areas, estimated at 18.1 percent according to the Economic Research Service, is both higher and more concentrated than the urban (15.1 percent) and national (15.5 percent) poverty rates. Overall, 82 percent of high-poverty counties—or 571 of the 703 counties with at least a 20 percent poverty rate—are rural. And, 86 percent of the nation’s “persistently poor” counties are rural, as well.

Additionally, 30 percent of rural families (more than 8 million) spend more than 30 percent of their monthly gross income on housing. These households are considered “cost burdened,” and are likely to struggle to pay for other basic needs, such as health care and child care.
USDA Rural Housing homeownership and rental housing programs have a proven track record of overcoming these barriers to affordable housing in rural America. By providing low-cost loans, grants, and other related assistance, these key programs have not only helped millions of rural families improve their quality of life, but have created thousands of jobs in rural America. In 2017, RHS assisted over 130,000 rural families in improving their housing conditions through home ownership loans, home repair loans and grants and rental and farmworker housing programs and provided over 468,000 units of affordable, safe rental housing.

The 2013 Drinking Water Needs Assessment indicated a national need of $64.5 billion for small systems[3] (systems that serve 3,300 or fewer persons) in the 50 states, Puerto Rico and other U.S. Territories. This represents 17.4 percent of total national need and comprises some 41,000 systems (82.8 percent of all systems) and 24 percent of the population. The need of water systems in American Indians and Alaska Native villages totals $3.3 billion.

USDA’s Water and Sewer loan and grant financing program is a key component of economic development in rural America. Every water and wastewater construction dollar generates nearly $15 of private investment and adds $14 to the local property tax base. The agency boasts a portfolio of more than 18,000 active water/sewer loans, more than 19 million rural residents served, and a delinquency rate of just 0.18 percent.[1] Fiscal Year 2017, USDA funded 736 projects serving 2.3 million people in small rural communities of 10,000 people or less.

We urge the Subcommittee to support the Mutual Self-Help Program, Section 502 Direct Loans homeownership loans, rental assistance, new multi-family construction and preservation, farmworker housing as well as water sewer financing. All provide critical support to rural populations, improve rural communities and create jobs.

Sincerely,

Sean Duffy and Jim Costa.

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Blog Budget

FY 2019 Appropriations Request Forms

Below are appropriations request forms for FY 2019:

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Blog

New Census Report on 2015 Poverty and Income Highlights the Urban/Rural Divide

Today, the US Census Bureau released their annual report on poverty and income. Economists predicted an increase of 1 to 2 percent in incomes in 2015, but the report showed a surprising 5.2 percent increase. A closer look at the data reveals a stark contrast between the economy in urban and rural communities.

Urban Areas on the Rise

Over the past 8 years, rural and urban economies have generally exhibited similar economic trends. However, in 2015, there was a sharp divergence (click to enlarge).
Over the past 8 years, rural and urban economies have generally exhibited similar economic trends. However, in 2015, there was a sharp divergence (click to enlarge).

Inside of metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), median incomes grew by 6 percent. Much of that growth was confined to cities dwellers, whose incomes rose by 7.3 percent compared to suburban and exurban residents, whose incomes rose by a more modest 4 percent. This is the largest increase in median income since before the Great Recession.

The poverty rate declined in MSAs, dropping from 14.4 percent in 2014 to 13.0 in 2015. Inside MSA cities, poverty dropped sharply, from 18.9 percent in 2014 to 16.8 percent in 2015, and in the surrounding suburbs, it dropped from 11.8 percent in 2014 to 10.8 percent in 2015.

Rural Communities Continue to Stagnate

In 2015, rural* median incomes declined by 2 percent, which is just inside of the margin of error.  Poverty remained stagnant, increasing a statistically insignificant 0.2 percent in 2015 and settling at 16.7 percent.

Regardless of whether the decline in rural economic conditions was statistically significant in 2015, it is clear that rural communities were left behind last year as our economy continued to grow modestly. Rural mortality and out-migration continues to hinder growth in small towns and farming communities. In fact, the number of rural residents living in poverty actually declined by about 10 percent, from 8.2 million in 2014 to 7.4 million in 2015, but because of population loss, this decline was not reflected in an accompanying decline in the overall poverty rate.

*Includes both micropolitan statistical areas and territory outside of metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas

Crossposted at the National Rural Housing Coalition

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Blog Resources Spotlight

Report: Reflecting on 50 Years of Success

Fifty Years of Self-Help HousingThroughout rural America communities confront the lack of safe and affordable housing. Rural communities have less access to affordable credit options and lower incomes, which in turn leads to increased instances of persistent poverty. Additionally, many rural communities face substandard housing and lack of plumbing. Because of these issues, rural Americans are often unable to find or afford decent housing.

The goal of this report is to recognize and commemorate the 50th anniversary and 50,000th home built through the Section 523 Mutual Self-Help Housing Program. This program is designed to assist eligible families in achieving their dreams of homeownership. Administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the program teams together families who work together to build each other’s homes. All self-help homes are designed to be both affordable and safe, ranging in size and structure to accommodate different family needs. The Mutual Self-Help Program serves as an essential tool for rural Americans to achieve affordable homeownership, and improving the quality of life in rural areas.