Budget Legislation

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee FY16 THUD Bill Drastically Cuts HOME Program

On Tuesday, June 23, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) proposed to fund the HOME Investment Partnerships program (HOME) for FY16 at just $66 million, only 7 percent of the FY15 amount ($900 million).  Such a drastic cut will result in long-term consequences.  While NRHC is aware that the country is facing budget constraints, we implore members of Congress to work together to develop a budget that will restore the HOME program.

Authorized in 1990, the HOME program is a locally-driven block grant program that is vitally important to improving the quality of life of rural Americans.  Since 1992, the HOME program has created more than one million affordable homes.  State and local governments have used HOME funds to produce 495,609 home buyer homes, 466,861 rental homes, and 231,928 rehabilitated owner-occupied homes. Additionally, 298,391 families have received tenant-based rental assistance through the HOME program.

The HOME program provides grants to state and local governments, which use the funds to directly benefit the low and very-low income families in rural communities across the nation.  HOME funds are used to provide tenant-based rental assistance; housing rehabilitation; assistance to home buyers; and new construction of housing.  For example, the Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC) makes funding available to nonprofit developers, for-profit developers and Community Housing Development Organizations to provide zero interest (3 percent for for-profit developers) through the HOME Homeownership Program.   The Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprises (FAHE) worked with the city government in Beattyville, Kentucky to construct two affordable rental duplexes utilizing HOME funds.  The duplexes were occupied one month after completion, and rented for $358 per month to families with incomes below 80 percent of AMI.  For more HOME program success stories, please visit our fact page.

Continuation of the HOME program is especially crucial now, given the current state of America’s housing.  In the United States, 15.6 percent of all households, were severely housing cost-burdened.  A little more than 13 percent of all rural households are extremely cost burdened, meaning that they spend 50 percent or more of their monthly income on housing costs.  Almost 40 percent of cost burdened rural households are renters. Nearly one-third of rural renters have incomes below the poverty level, and nearly 6 percent of homes in rural communities are considered moderately or severely substandard.

If funding for the HOME program is reduced to $66 million in FY 16, compared to the President’s budget request of $1.06 billion, there would be a loss of an estimated 38,665 affordable housing units and 8,813 families assisted with HOME tenant-based rental assistance.  This would equal a loss of:

  • 16,045 units of affordable housing for new home buyers;
  • 15,099 units of newly constructed and rehabilitated affordable rental units;
  • 7,521 units of owner-occupied rehabilitation for low-income homeowners; and
  • 8,813 low-income households assisted with HOME tenant-based rental assistance.

The impact of this severe cut to the HOME program will be felt by communities all across America.  The Full Appropriations Committee markup is scheduled for Thursday, June 15, 2015.   NRHC urges members of Congress to restore funding to the HOME program.

For general information on the HOME program, please click here.


National Homeownership Month:  Celebrating 50 Years and 50,000 Homes Built Through the Mutual Self-Help Program

June is National Homeownership Month, recognizing the important relationship between homeownership and achieving the American Dream, and encouraging people around the country to learn more about homeownership opportunities and financial management plans.  In 1995, President Clinton decreed a week-long celebration in recognition of homeownership, this week long recognition was extended in 2002 when President George W. Bush issued a proclamation declaring the entire month of June to be National Homeownership Month.

For the past six decades, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been actively involved in homeownership assistance for rural America, and this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Mutual Self-Help Program, as well as the 50,000th home built.  The Mutual Self-Help Housing Program represents a partnership between the federal government, rural housing organizations and rural families.  All with the same goal: improving housing conditions in rural areas.

The Mutual Self-Help Program enables local, qualified organizations to address the housing needs of rural America. Local housing organization receive funding from the Rural Development office of USDA.  With these funds, housing organization provide  technical and supervisory assistance to families that apply for loans from USDA and organize families in groups of 8-12, which then work together to build their homes.  Families work nights and weekends to construct their homes putting in 65% (or 1,000 hours) of the labor.  In doing so, families earn an average $25,006 in equity, decrease construction costs, and make lasting investments in their community.  Through this sweat-equity model and by exclusively targeting very-low and low-income families, the Mutual Self-Help Program helps families access safe and decent affordable housing that would otherwise be unable to enter the market.

Beyond the 50,000th family completing a self-help home, the success of Mutual and Self Help Housing can be measured in the demand for this program. Across the nation, more than 50,000 families are on local housing waiting lists for self-help housing.   Their participation has been limited by budget limitations of the Agriculture Department.

NRHC members have been busy celebrating National Homeownership Month and the Mutual Self-Help Program across the country with ground-breaking ceremonies, block parties, blitz builds, and even a gubernatorial proclamation.  Here are just a few of their stories:

  • On June 12, the Northwest Regional Housing Authority hosted an event called Appreciating 50 Years of Building Dreams. Attendees included employees from NWRHA, Little Dixie Community Action Agency, and USDA Rural Development; Self-Help Homeowners, and an aid from Congressman Rick Crawford’s (AR) office.
  • Coachella Valley Housing Coalition (CVHC) hosted the Los Jardines Self-Help Grand Opening and National Homeownership Month Event. Regarding the Mutual Self-Help Program, John Mealy, Executive Director of CVHC said: “One of the greatest joys of the work we do is seeing the happy faces on the families as they finally put down their hammers and move into their new homes – and years later learning through their stories about the positive impacts the Self Help Program has had on the lives of their children.”
  • The Self-Help Housing Corporation of Hawaii worked with the offices of Governor David Ige and Lt. Governor Shan Tsutsui to recognize the Self-Help Program. June 15, 2015 was named Self-Help Housing Day in Hawaii by gubernatorial proclamation.

NRHC encourages you to share you appreciation and celebration of the Self-Help Program by sending your photos and stories to Audrey Johnston at  Sharing on social media? Use #50yrs50khomes to increase awareness of rural housing and this great program.