On February 25, the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Commission – led by former Senator Kit Bond, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros, former Senator Mel Martinez, and former Senator George Mitchell – released its recommendations on the future of housing policy, with specific recommendations for USDA Rural Housing programs.
Overall, the Commission’s recommendations are supportive of rural housing programs. Specifically, the Commission called on Congress to:
- Support USDA’s unique role in supporting affordable housing by not combining it with HUD;
- Extend the Rural Definition until 2020 and maintain current law’s 25,000 population cap;
- Modestly increase funding for the Section 502 Direct Loan program;
- Dedicate resources to improving capacity building and technology needed to modernize loan processing; and
- Increase Low-Income Housing Tax Credits by 50 percent.
At yesterday’s press conference, former Senator Kit Bond repeatedly highlighted the unique nature of rural housing need and the importance of Rural Housing programs. Bond stated that despite their successful track record, rural housing programs were underfunded and deserved more attention from Congress.