Contact: Bob Rapoza
National Rural Housing Coalition
Phone: (202) 393-5225
2016 Omnibus Bill Includes Record Funding for Rural Housing Programs
WASHINGTON, Dec. 17, 2015 – Yesterday, Congress released the omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal year (FY) 2016. This bill funds several programs, including the Mutual Self-Help Housing Program, Section 521 Rural Rental Assistance, and HOME Investment Partnership Program, above the levels previously included in the House and Senate appropriations bills. This funding will allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to address the needs of rural communities.
“The funding for rural housing programs in this year’s appropriations bill are the highest they have been in recent memory, and at least since the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1992,” said Bob Rapoza, the executive secretary of the National Rural Housing Coalition. “In an era of austerity, partnerships between nonprofit and for-profit organizations, local community governments, and the federal government are essential.”
Around 46.2 million Americans live in rural communities, and 8.2 million of them live in poverty. NRHC notes that 2.6 million of those people are children under 18. Concentrated poverty leads to decreases in affordable standard housing, health conditions, and educational outcomes. Even though housing in rural communities is generally less costly, because of lower incomes, higher poverty rates, limited housing stock, and limited access to credit, many rural Americans live in inadequate and substandard homes.
Programs funded by the omnibus will provide the resources needed to develop and preserve affordable rural housing. Section 521 Rural Rental Assistance payments are made to owners of USDA Section 515 financed rural multi-family homes to subsidize the rent payments of low- and very-low income tenants, who often have no other housing option. The funding level ensures all current very-low income tenants, including many elderly and persons with disabilities, will continue to have a safe, decent place to live.
With the Mutual Self-Help Housing Program, 8 to 12 low- and very-low income family groups build their own homes with technical assistance and supervision from nonprofit housing organizations. Self-help families put in an average of 1,189.9 labor hours in constructing their homes, while working regular jobs and caring for their children. The President’s budget proposed a significant cut to the Self-Help program, but Congress rejected this reduction. The omnibus will fund the program at the FY2015 level.
The HOME Program, funded at $950 million for FY 2016, provides grants to states and local governments. The grantees, who often partner with local nonprofit organizations, use this funding for a variety of housing-related projects such as building, buying, or rehabilitating affordable housing for rental and homeownership purposes. A recent report by the HOME Coalition indicates the program generated $94 billion in local income and 1.5 million jobs nationwide. With the funding level for the HOME Program included in the omnibus, some of the nation’s neediest families will get the support they require.
“It is wonderful to see members of Congress and the President standing up for rural families,” said Rapoza. “NRHC encourages the House and Senate to vote in support of the increased funding for these essential programs for rural communities.”
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. For more information, visit www.ruralhousingcoalition.org.