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The NRHC Turns 50

NRHC Turns 50

The Annual Meeting of the National Rural Housing Coalition (NRHC) is scheduled for December 4, at 10 AM at Inter-American Dialogue, 1155 15TH St NW, Suite 800, Washington DC.  The NRHC board will meet immediately afterwards.  NRHC will also hold a reception on Capitol Hill on evening of December 3.  More information on that is forthcoming. 

The meeting marks the 50 year Anniversary of the NRHC.   The original by-laws for the Coalition were adopted on October 31, 1969.  NRHC was incorporated in the District of Columbia on December 17, 1969.  Among the signers on the articles of incorporation: Clay Cochran and Jim Hightower who was the first NRHC employee and who did the work in pulling the original board together as well as the paperwork involved in establishing NRHC.

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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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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

Greystone Leads Effort to Upgrade Rural Housing

Greystone Leads Effort to Upgrade Rural Housing for the Poor

Shortages of affordable, low-income housing are reaching crisis proportions in some parts of the U.S.

Plantation Apartments in Richmond Hill, Ga. New York finance firm Greystone & Co. has teamed up with federal and state agencies in Georgia to preserve 1,310 low-income rental apartments built in the 1970s and 1980s by the Agriculture Department for rural households.

 

New York housing-finance firm Greystone & Co. has teamed up with federal and state agencies in a $168.6 million effort to preserve and recapitalize 1,310 low-income rental apartments in Georgia.

The units, developed and managed by Atlanta-based Hallmark Cos., were built in the 1970s and 1980s through a U.S. Agriculture Department program targeting rural households. Tenants, who are required to meet income-eligibility requirements, pay about $400 to $500 a month in rent.

The portfolio includes 26 properties in 17 counties. Like tens of thousands of other properties developed under federal housing programs, the Georgia homes are badly in need of repair.

The deal, known as a recapitalization, provided funds for upgrades worth an average of $37,000 per unit, including such improvements as new appliances, counters, cabinets and electrical systems. The recapitalization also involved a sale of the properties and a refinancing of the debt on the portfolio. Through those actions, enough surplus capital is being raised to pay for the improvements.

“Unless you do something creative, they really have no chance of being preserved,” said Tanya Eastwood, president of Greystone’s affordable-housing redevelopment unit.

The sellers of the properties were the limited partners who decades ago provided equity financing to Hallmark for their development, mostly in exchange for tax credits. The new owner is a venture of Hallmark and new equity investors who also are getting returns primarily in the form of low-income-housing tax credits.

The units are being preserved at a time when shortages of affordable and low-income housing are reaching crisis proportions in some parts of the country. According to a recent report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the U.S. has a shortage of more than 7.2 million units for “extremely low income” renter households.

Hundreds of thousands of units are at risk of becoming unusable, housing advocates say. “There’s obviously a great need for more affordable housing, but we also can’t afford to lose any of the existing,” Ms. Eastwood said. The program in Georgia “allows us to prevent the crisis from getting worse.”

Much of the financing for the Georgia effort is coming from a combination of government housing and low-income assistance programs including the sale of $54.3 million in “private activity” bonds. The tax exemption on those bonds wound up on the chopping block during the debate over tax overhaul last year, but housing advocates and others were able to save them.

Meantime, about $28 million of debt financing is being provided through programs run by the Rural Housing Service, an arm of the Agriculture Department that dates back to the Farmers Home Administration, which has its roots in the Great Depression.

The Georgia units now being recapitalized were developed under the Section 515 rural-housing program, which was launched in 1962 originally to create low-rent housing for people over 62 years old.

Today, Section 515 properties are available for low-income families and individuals as well as people with disabilities, according to an Agriculture Department spokeswoman.

Since the program launched, 18,426 properties with 563,936 units were created. As of March 31, there were 13,357 properties with 407,826 units in the department’s portfolio, the spokeswoman said.

No new properties were created in 2017, and no new properties are scheduled to be created this year, she said.

Founded in 1988, Greystone is a real-estate lending, investment and advisory firm that is involved with a wide range of housing. The company originated $9.5 billion in commercial real-estate loans in 2017 and has a loan-servicing portfolio of $30 billion.

Greystone has done about 20 deals that have recapitalized and upgraded more than 12,000 low-income-housing units with the same basic structure as the Georgia deal.

“We kind of built a factory,” said Ms. Eastwood.

Hallmark is an owner and manager of about 11,000 affordable-housing units, mostly in the southeast U.S.

Write to Peter Grant at peter.grant@wsj.com

Appeared in the April 18, 2018, print edition as ‘Greystone to Finance Low-Income Housing.’

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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.