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Shutdown Impacts Rural Housing

Click to enlarge As the budget stalemate in Washington drags on the consequences and impacts are becoming clearer and increasingly disturbing. Without any justification, the Administration has closed 25 percent of the federal government and among the casualties are agencies with the responsibility for financing affordable housing, clean drinking water, and community opportunity. NRHC members have reported about one small but important agency – the Rural Housing Service – and the recent absence of its housing assistance. Families waiting to close their home mortgages are hung out to dry, families building their homes are stymied, and hundreds of thousands of families receiving rental subsidies may soon lose that assistance if the government shutdown goes on for “months or years.” Below is a compilation of information supplied by NRHC members on the impact of the shutdown on rural housing efforts in their states and communities. Section 502 Direct Fahe – working in Appalachia — reports that they are currently holding on 424 loans, across 18 states, in the 502 Direct pipeline that either cannot be submitted to USDA or are sitting idle at USDA. Fahe reports that 15 second mortgages that are operating on a funding timeline tied to 502 Direct loans that are held up now as well. Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) reports that the organization has already accumulated 15-20 Section 502 home ownership loan applications from the packaging program in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington that are awaiting submission. In California, Self-Help Enterprises reports 18 families have been impacted and a total loan obligation of $3.3 million. In Oregon, NeighborWorks Umpqua reports that 7 families are waiting for a loan specialist to issue a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) so they can go shopping. In Oregon, NeighborWorks Umpqua reports that 4 families in contract cannot close their section 502 loans, have their inspections reviewed, or appraisal ordered. In Delaware, Milford Housing Development Corporation (MHDC) reports that the organization has 3 Direct clients under construction that may be paused. In Delaware, MHDC reports on home ownership loans: 1 client at USDA ready to close on their construction loan; 1 client at USDA with contract and leveraged money waiting to be reviewed so they can be approved and close; and 2 clients will have plans and specs submitted soon so they can go to closing. PathStone reports that 2 first time homebuyers, from New York and Pennsylvania respectively, were scheduled...
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Housing and Community Development Organizations Boosted the Rural Economy by $380 Million and 40,000 Jobs in 2013

Today, the National Rural Housing Coalition (NRHC) published a new report, “Impact Report: The Economic and Human Impact of Nonprofit Organizations on Rural America,” summarizing the results of its annual survey of over 100 rural housing and community development organizations. The report estimates that in 2013 alone, nonprofit organizations generated $380 million in economic activity and created over 40,000 jobs in rural communities. “This report documents not only the broad economic and human impact of nonprofit housing and community development organizations, but also the critical role of federal programs—particularly those administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)—in improving the quality of life in rural America,” said Bob Rapoza, executive secretary of the coalition. According to the report, rural housing organizations secured $1.3 billion in low-cost mortgages in 2013 to help rural families build, purchase or rehabilitate 8,800 units of affordable housing. The most significant source of this financing was the USDA direct homeownership loan program, which has helped more than 2.1 million rural families become homeowners over the past 50 years. It is also one of most cost-effective federal housing programs; in 2014, each loan cost the government about $3,000 over the entire lifetime of the loan. “With this program, rural housing organizations can bring hope to underserved, rural communities, one family at a time. No other federal housing program can achieve the same results at such a low cost,” explained NRHC board president, Tom Carew. Despite the program’s successful track record and strong bipartisan support in Congress, the Obama Administration has proposed significant cuts to the program in recent years. USDA proposed cutting funding by more than 60 percent in 2014 from $900 million to $360 million. Moreover, the Department failed to spend $100 million in program funding as of year’s end. NRHC and others concerned about the lack of affordable housing in rural communities assert that USDA did not process applications in a timely fashion and that demand for rural housing assistance remains high. Rapoza urges USDA to make rural housing programs and the nonprofit organizations that use them a higher priority. “Nonprofit organizations have proven their ability to stretch limited federal dollars to make a real impact in rural America,” said Rapoza. “Given tight budgets, Congress and Administration should bolster rural communities by supporting these organizations—and the important programs they use—instead of reducing...
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USDA Leaves $100 Million In Rural Affordable Housing Funds on the Table

On Monday, October 27, NRHC delivered a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack, criticizing the Department’s failure to spend $100 million in program funding that aims to help families in rural America obtain and improve affordable housing. NRHC asserts that demand for rural housing assistance remains high, but USDA did not process applications in a timely fashion. “In this extremely tight budget environment, more than 1,000 families living in small, rural communities will not receive housing assistance authorized by Congress. Who could argue that rural housing conditions are so good or rural economies so strong that an injection of mortgage funds is not needed?” said Bob Rapoza, executive secretary of the National Rural Housing Coalition. USDA also left unspent one-third of the funds appropriated by Congress for the Mutual Self-Help Housing program. This program helps rural families who come together on nights and weekends to build their own homes. Their sweat equity lowers housing costs by an average of $25,000 per home and helps these families build wealth. The Department also imposed a 10 percent reduction on all program grants, yet at the end of the fiscal year more than enough money was available to fully fund those grants. NRHC contends that the only result of this policy was a downgrading of a very important and successful program. “In recent years, we have been dismayed by USDA management of rural housing programs in general and especially, the delivery of Section 502 Direct Homeownership Loans and Mutual and Self Help Housing grants,” said Rapoza. “We are extremely disappointed. Rural America deserves better treatment from this...
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Rural Revitalization Success Story

Download NRHC’s Success Story Template HERE!
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Social Media Webinar: How to Create a Social Media Strategy

The focus of this webinar was on how to create an effective social media strategy, regardless of your organization’s limited resources. By providing this webinar, in addition to other critical resources and information, NRHC aims to help build the capacity of rural housing organizations and to help raise awareness of the issues impacting rural families and their communities. NRHC would like to thank Capital One for its generous support of this webinar and our organization. You can download a copy of the PowerPoint Presentation here. Check our other Social Media resources, including: Advocacy Toolkit: Creating a Social Media Strategy Advocacy Toolkit: Using Local and Social Media to Support Your Advocacy Free Social Media Technical Assistance for all NRHC Members. To become a member, click...
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NRHC 2014 Impact Survey

In recent years, funding for USDA Rural Housing programs has been cut significantly, making it more difficult for nonprofit organizations and state and local governments to improve housing conditions in their communities. To help protect these resources, rural housing and community development organizations must find new and better ways to document their impact and effectiveness. That’s why we are inviting all rural housing organizations to participate in our 2014 Impact Survey.   Click here to download the 2014 NRHC Impact Survey TODAY! The more organizations that participate, the better we can document the critical role rural housing organizations play in planning, developing, financing, and building affordable housing. For that reason, please free to send this survey to other rural housing organizations in your communities and ask them to participate. Please complete the survey and return it to Sarah Mickelson at sarah@rapoza.org by October 10, 2014. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us directly via email or at 202-393-5229. And, remember to submit the survey only once; a number of organizations are assisting NRHC in disseminating this survey, so you may receive it from many sources. Thank you in advance for helping make this survey a...
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