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Congratulations President Biden and Vice President Harris

TO: President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris.  Congratulations on your victory.  As you take office, we urge you to address the pressing need for decent housing in rural America

 A recent Wall Street Journal article noted, “Fewer homes are being built per household than almost any other time in US history, and it is even worse in rural areas.” As a result, in some rural communities, economic growth is impeded not by the lack of jobs but by the lack of housing for workers.[1]   Some 1.5 million occupied rural units are substandard, more than 30% lack running water and the situation is even worse in Native Communities. .  According to the most recent National Agricultural Workers Survey, 33% of all farmworkers and 45% of migrant farmworkers live in crowded dwellings.[2] 

Here are six things you can do to improve housing in our nation’s small towns and farming communities:

Double Direct Homeownership Loans for Low-Income Families to $2 billion:   this will provide almost 15,000 home mortgage loans to low-income families, including 6,000 very low-income families.

Increase Mutual and Self Help Housing to $75   million:  Mutual Self-Help Housing is the only federal program that combines “sweat equity” homeownership opportunities with technical assistance and affordable loans for America’s rural families. This funding will provide some 6000 low-income families the opportunity to build their own home.

Provide $1 billion to preserve existing rental housing in and revitalize new construction of rental housing in rural America. This will address the documented need to preserve the existing USDA housing portfolio as well as address the pressing new for new affordable rental housing in rural America.

Provide appropriations for rental assistance for low income families  An estimated 18.5 percent of residents — 72,000 households — of USDA rental housing do not receive rental assistance from USDA, HUD or state sources.  All are low income with annual income of only $13,500; the vast majority pays more than 30% of income for rent.  The approximate cost for this increase totals $350 million; 

Improve Housing Conditions for Agriculture Workers: Provide $60 million in section 514 loans and $20 million in section 516 grants.  Section 514 and 516 are the only federal programs that provide affordable loans and grants. There are approximately 3 million migrant and seasonal farmworkers in the United States.  According to the most recent National Agricultural Workers Survey, 33% of all farmworkers and 45% of migrant farmworkers live in crowded dwellings[3]. Moreover, farmworkers and their families also suffer from poverty.  61% of farmworkers earn incomes below the poverty line.

Increase Financing for Rural Water and Waste Water Facilities: By providing $3 billion in loans and $1.6 billion in grants for financing for water and waste water facilities in small communities will address the backlog of applications on hand at USDA and finance close to 1,000 facilities that will improve water quality and waste disposal in small towns and farming communities across rural America.

Congratulations and best wishes

Bob Rapoza


[1] Raice, Shayndi. “Rural America Has Jobs. Now It Just Needs Housing.” Wall Street Journal May 30, 2018.


[3] “National Agricultural Workers Survey.” January 2018.

Blog Budget Legislation

Year End Wrap-Up


Dec 21, 2020

The House just released the FY 21 Omnibus Appropriations/ COVID relief bill. The bill is more than 5000 pages long.  The COVID package did not include any funding for rural development.

FY 21 Highlights

The House and Senate Agriculture Bills were relatively close in appropriations recommendations and the conference agreement reflects that.  One of the few areas of disagreement was rental assistance and vouchers.  The House included the total for vouchers in the rental assistance account, as proposed by USDA.  The Senate did not and prevailed in conference.

Most programs continue at the FY 20 level, which, of course, is billions of dollars above the budget agreement. 

See the table below for details

Highlights of the COVID Package

Rental Assistance

The bill provides $25 billion of rental assistance to low income tenants.  It also extends until the end of January 2021 a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, which Biden administration may extend again. The Treasury Department would be responsible for dispersing the rental assistance to states via a formula based on population. Landlords and building owners can apply on behalf of tenants meeting the eligibility requirements, generally those who make less than 80% of median income in their area, have at least one person in their households who has lost a job and can demonstrate they are at risk of losing their home.


  • $ 3 billion in emergency assistance grants to CDFIs;$1.25 billion to be made available within 60 days of enactment; $1.75 billion in CDFI emergency assistance target to low income minority communities;
  • $9 billion in a new CDFI capital investment program targeted to Minority Depository Institutions.

Low Income Housing Tax Credit

  • Establishes a 4% permanent floor on certain LIHTC projects;

New Markets Tax Credit

  • 5 year extension (2021-2025) of NMTC at $5 billion in annual allocation authority.

Final Rural Housing and Development Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2021

Alternate text


COVID- 19 and California’s Housing Crisis

In California, the ongoing housing crisis has made it hard for local and regional governmental authorities to combat and counter the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Crowded and substandard housing make individuals more susceptible to the spread of Covid-19 which is an airborne illness. The shortage of housing, strict zoning laws, high poverty have led to an increase in homelessness with people out on the streets or living in their cars and an increase in Covid-19 infections.  Shelters are often overcrowded and less able to enforce social distancing.

In the city of Oakland California they have gotten roughly 1000 unsheltered (homeless) people off the streets and state supported hotel rooms or trailers. Oakland Mayor Schaff has extended the eviction moratorium to non-commercial renters as long as the city has declared locally a state of emergency.  The eviction moratorium does not address the underlying problem: the lack of available housing is the direct result of income and wealth. To better combat the lack of housing California must first address the income inequality in the state.

The pandemic in California started in more afluent communities but it is now making its way into California’s most vulnerable and less affluent communities such as essential workers, immigrants and the homeless population.

Through June 30, 2020 California affordable housing total $170 million, accounting for 12,300 new and renovated units.While California has found housing for 15000 homeless individuals, the homeless total in the state is 100,000. Yet, local leaders indicate that the crisis has not abated; this economic crisis, and health crisis increasing homelessness. The combination of high housing costs and low incomes increases the likelihood of homelessness

The video can be found here.


June is Homeownership Month

Below are some photos of happy homeowners.

Eleele Iluna Subdivision, Kauai, Hawaii

Self-Help Housing site in Woodlake, CA

Community Action Team, St. Helens, Oregon.

Community Action Team signing a Self Help rehab project contract with a client during COVID-19.

Pokai Bay Self-Help Housing Project

Pokai Bay Project, Honolulu


Support Rural Economies

By any measure, most of rural America has still not recovered from the Great Recession. According to the Economic Research Service, since 2007, rural median income has averaged 20 percent below the urban median. Over 15 percent of all rural counties, more than 300 across the country, are persistently poor with at least 20 percent of the population living in poverty over the last 30 years.

By any measure, most of rural America has still not recovered from the Great Recession. According to the Economic Research Service, since 2007, rural median income has averaged 20 percent below the urban median. Over 15 percent of all rural counties, more than 300 across the country, are persistently poor with at least 20 percent of the population living in poverty over the last 30 years.

Now, with a new crisis looming, the National Rural Housing Coalition urges Congress to take action aimed at protecting current rural housing borrowers and helping to jump-start rural economies by investing in housing programs and water and wastewater financing.

Short Run:

USDA has some 200,000 low-income homeowners.  Over 10,000 have requested a moratorium on their loans.

Congress should authorize USDA to provide refinancing to borrowers up the statutory limit for section 502 loans.  Under current law, a section 502 direct borrower may only receive a loan for a period of 33 or 38 years, depending on income.  While USDA has tools at its disposal – including reducing the interest rate on a loan – in some cases, low-income families may need more time than is available on their current mortgage to afford monthly payments.

This will allow USDA to better tailor loans to the need of current borrowers in order to weather these new challenging economic times:

The proposed amendment to the Housing Act of 1949:

 SEC XXX.  Section 505 of the Housing Act of 1949 is amended by replacing the heading with “Loss Mitigation and Foreclosure Procedures,” renumbering subsection (b) as (c), and inserting a new subsection (b) as follows:

“(b) Loan Modification

Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, for any loan made under Sections 502 and 504, the Secretary may modify the interest rate and extend the term of such loan for up to 30 years from the date of such modification.”

Appropriations Amendment – In the end, granting moratorium and revise loan modifications is unlikely to be adequate to save most low-income homeowners.  Therefore, Congress should provide an appropriation that covers the cost of interest and principal repayments.


For an additional amount for ‘‘Rural Housing Insurance Fund Program Account’’, $90,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2021, for the cost of direct loans, including the cost of modifying loans as defined in section 502 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, as follows:  section 502 loans [42 U.S.C. 1472] to assist families impacted by coronavirus: Provided, That such amount is designated by the Congress as being for an emergency requirement pursuant to section 251(b)(2)(A)(i) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.

USDA has some 14,000 rental developments with some 400,000 units.  Of this number, approximately 270,000 receive rental assistance.  Another 40,000 households live in USDA financed housing without a rental subsidy.  Congress should provide an appropriation of rental assistance that is adequate to assist residents of USDA financed rental housing impacted by COVID-19, and those funds should be available through September 30, 2021.  Congress should make a similar adjustment to USDA’s voucher program to ensure that voucher holders impacted by the COVID-19 can receive relief.

Invest in Rural America


  • Providing an additional $1 billion in direct loans for homeownership.  This amount should be available for 2020 and F.Y. 2021.  Every year, USDA receives over 15,000 home mortgage loan applications and funds only about 7000. 
  • Appropriating $50 million for Mutual Self Help Housing, which encourages self-reliance and hard work, helps families build wealth, stimulates local economies, and is in high demand with over 30,000 families currently on waitlists for the program;
  • Addressing the need to preserve the USDA multi-family portfolio by providing $100 million for multi-family preservation demonstration and $33 million in additional budget authority for $200 million in section 515 loans.  USDA has a backlog of some $200 million in rental housing preservation applications;
  • Increasing Available Financing for Rural Water and Waste Water Facilities: By providing $3 billion in loans and $1.2 billion in grants for financing for water and wastewater facilities in small communities  Congress will address the backlog of applications on hand at USDA and finance close to 1,000 facilities that will improve water quality and waste disposal in small towns and farming communities across rural America; and
Spotlight Uncategorized

Job Opportunity

Executive Director Job Posting March 2020

After 40 years the Executive Director of FNPH is retiring. The Board of Directors with the assistance of the Executive Director will be conducting a thorough search to fill the position. The history, mission and role in the organization is described in more detail below.

This is an exciting opportunity for an individual with the skills and experience to build on a legacy and work collaboratively with a passionate Board of Directors to strategically plan the next phase of growth and development looking at the mission of the organization and creating a long term vision for FNPH.

History and Mission of FNPH:

Florida Non-Profit Housing, Inc (FNPH) is the successor organization of the American Friends Service Committee’s (AFSC) Florida Migrant and Seasonal Farm Worker Housing effort. AFSC organized 5 nonprofit housing corporations by acquiring sites, recruiting self-help applicants and using this early development to gain approval of section 523 Technical Assistance (TA) grants. AFSC then began providing technical assistance and training to these Self-help grantees within the State of Florida in the early 1970’s.

In 1978, FNPH was formed and took over this important effort from AFSC. A statewide meeting was convened to address mutual concerns. That meeting was attended by rural development state district and county personnel, all grantees and FNPH staff. The initial goal was to provide farm worker housing throughout the State of Florida, through the provision of Technical Assistance and Training (TAT) to nonprofit housing providers.

Today the primary goal is still the same. FNPH provides technical assistance and training throughout the Southeast Region of the US. There are two divisions of FNPH: Farm Worker Housing and Self-Help Housing.

Farm Worker Housing:

FNPH is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor as “Lead Agency” for the Southeast Housing Consortium (SEHC). As Lead Agency, we monitor and provide assistance to DOL funded agencies in Delaware, Florida and Mississippi.

On a statewide basis, FNPH provides technical assistance and training to nonprofit housing corporations and units of governments to develop, own and manage housing for farm workers. We assist agencies in leveraging other sources of funds to lower the mortgage from the primary lender, Rural Housing Services (e.g., HOME, SHIP, CDBG, etc.).

Self Help Housing:

Since 1980, FNPH has provided technical assistance and training as a Regional Contractor for the Rural Housing Service’s Section 523 Mutual Self-Help Housing Technical Assistance Grant Program. The primary purpose of this contract is to provide management and fiscal training, as well as technical support, to operating, new and potential Self-Help Housing Grantees.

Summary of the Role:

The Executive Director is responsible for the formulation and interpretation of organizational policies and providing overall direction of the organization within guidelines set up by the FNPH Board of Directors. The Executive Director plans, directs and coordinates operational activities at the highest level of management with the help of program directors and staff specialists.  Work is performed under the general direction and support of the FNPH Board of Directors through meetings, discussion and analysis of reports and updates.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director (ED) will have overall strategic and operational responsibility for FNPH staff, programs, expansion, and exaction of its mission. S/he will initially develop deep knowledge of our service area, core programs, operations, and business plans.

  • Develop and maintain effective collaborative relationships with appropriate local, state, and federal agencies, which have direct or indirect responsibilities to very low, low and moderate income population. Similarly develop and maintain effective collaborative working relationships with the agencies FNPH provides technical assistance and training.
  • Responsible for planning, organization, and direction of the organization’s operations and programs with the DOL and USDA.
  • Provides leadership to and manages the efforts of staff to ensure appropriate support of each funding source.
  • Retains a diverse, highly qualified staff by providing career coaching, growth, and personal development of employees.
  • Ensure ongoing programmatic excellence, rigorous program evaluation, and consistent quality of finance and administration including investment management, fundraising, communications, and systems; recommend timelines and resources needed to achieve strategic goals.
  • Ensure effective systems to track progress and regularly evaluate program components to measure successes that can be effectively communicated to the board, funders, and other constituents.
  • Expand revenue generating and fundraising activities to support existing program operations and future growth and expansion.
  • Expand and refine all aspects of communications – from web presence to external relations with the goal of creating a stronger brand.
  • Begin to build partnerships in new markets; publish and communicate program results with an emphasis on the successes and accomplishments.

Education and Experience:

  • Graduation from an accredited college or university with a Bachelor’s degree. Master’s degree preferred in Public Administration, Business Administration or a related field.
  • A minimum of seven (7) years or progressively responsible management level experience in a not-for-profit management position with proven success developing and operationalizing strategies that have taken an organization to the next stage of growth.
  • Additional experience in one or more of the following areas preferred:
    • Rural Housing
    • Housing Finance
    • Property Management
  • Unwavering commitment to quality programs and data-driven program evaluation.
  • Excellence in organizational management with the ability to coach staff, manage, and develop high-performance teams, set and achieve strategic objectives, and manage a budget.
  • Past success working with a board of directors with the ability to cultivate existing board member relationships.
  • Strong marketing, public relations, and fundraising experience with the ability to engage a wide range of stakeholders and cultures.
  • Strong written and verbal communications skills; a persuasive and passionate communicator with excellent interpersonal and multidisciplinary project skills.
  • Action-oriented, adaptable, and innovative approach to business planning.
  • Ability to work effectively in collaboration with diverse groups of people.
  • Passion, integrity, positive attitude, mission-driven, and self-directed.


This position requires frequent travel up to 30% of the time, by both air and ground transportation. Must be able and willing to travel by air and/or drive to other sites and stay overnight or multiple nights in a hotel.

Physical demands:

While performing this job, one is required to use hands and fingers for computer and telephone, talk and hear, as well as stand, walk, drive and travel. Lifting between 5 – 15 pounds is necessary.

Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform essential functions of the job.

What we offer:

FNPH provides a competitive salary, generous employer paid health, welfare and retirement benefits along with generous time off including vacation time, sick and holiday pay.

The process:

To apply for this position please send your resume, with a thoughtful cover letter stating the reason you are applying for the job and what you will bring to the organization in terms of knowledge and experience. Please include your salary requirements in your cover letter. Applications without a cover letter and salary requirements will not be considered.

This position is posted on and all interested applicants should apply through Indeed.

Deadline for applications: Friday, April 3, 2020 at 5:00 pm Eastern Standard Time. Only candidates of interest will be contacted. We thank you in advance for your interest in FNPH.

A criminal background check and drug screen will be conducted once an offer of employment has been extended. Any employment offer will be contingent upon the results of these screenings.

FNPH is an equal opportunity employer. All applicants will be considered for employment without attention to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national original, veteran or disability status.


Rural Housing Coalition Celebrates 50 Years of Improving Housing Conditions Across America

Over 40 rural organizations gathered in Washington, DC to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the National Rural Housing Coalition

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — The Board of Directors of the National Rural Housing Coalition (NRHC) held a two-day meeting on December 3-4, 2019, in Washington D.C., marking the coalition’s 50th Anniversary. A commemorative pin and poster was released by the coalition this week and a page documenting NRHC’s 5 decades of advocacy is featured on the organization’s website. In addition, a reception to honor NRHC’s anniversary and accomplishments was also held on December 3rd on Capitol Hill, with Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) providing a keynote.

For 50 years, the National Rural Housing Coalition has worked diligently to promote and defend 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.

“NRHC, a national membership organization that advocates for improved housing and community facilities in America’s small town and farming communities, has 120 members located in rural and farming communities across the country,” said Bob Rapoza, executive secretary of the National Rural Housing Coalition. “For 50 years, our members have worked diligently to promote and defend 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.”

Rep. Costa, during his remarks at the reception, noted the significant contributions that federal rural housing programs have made to improving housing conditions in his rural, Central Valley District. The Congressman also noted the importance of a Mutual-Self Help Housing in helping low-income families build their own homes and gain equity.

The two-day meeting was designed to inform the board on federal housing and community development policy. The board heard from officials from the USDA Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service, staff from the Office of Comptroller of Currency and the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund. Bob Rapoza reported on the current status of rural housing appropriations in Congress.

The Board meets twice a year to discuss current federal policy and legislation. Beyond getting a status report on Congress and from federal agencies, the board mapped out its policy initiatives for the New Year.

“Throughout its history, NRHC has been at the forefront in pushing for better federal rural housing policy, and we will continue building on that success in the years ahead,” Rapoza said.

About the National Rural Housing Coalition

NRHC is a national membership organization comprised of nonprofit housing organizations, housing developers, state and local officials, and housing advocates. Since 1969, has NRHC worked to focus policy makers on the needs of rural areas through direct advocacy and by coordinating a network of rural housing advocates around the nation. NRHC regularly sponsors conferences to develop specific policies and legislative proposals with direct input from housing experts in the field.

Contact: Bob Rapoza
National Rural Housing Coalition
1155 15th St NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: (202) 393-5225
Fax (202) 393-3034


People’s Self Help Housing: 50 Years of Improving Housing and Lives

It is the 50 year anniversary of People’s Self Help Housing PSSH (PSSH).  PSSH has been working to increase the availability of affordable housing in California’s central coastal area since 1970.  PSSH’s mission is to help low income families build and purchase their own homes while also providing affordable rental housing.

 PSSH started with the help of a group of local citizens and community leaders who wanted to tackle the shortage of available low income housing. These concerned citizens and community leaders were able to address the lack of low income housing after the Fair Housing act of 1968. PSSH was founded in 1970 with Jeanette Duncan leading the way as founder and President/CEO. 

Over the last 50 years PSSH has helped build 1200 homes in the central coastal area of California through Mutual Self Help housing.  PSSH was one of pioneering organizations that employed this innovative approach to help low income families get the home of their dreams.  The Mutual and Self Help Housing program is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture  and is the only federal program where sweaty equity is used in combination with affordable loans and technical assistance. Families that are helped by this program work nights and weekends to provide 65% (or 1,000 hours) of the construction. Nationally families that participate in Mutual Self Help Housing are able to earn on average $18,215 in equity, decrease construction costs and make lasting investments. The hours the family puts in not only reduces the overall construction cost for the family but most times it gives them a better appreciation for their home. It also allows them to learn the construction process necessary to build a sound home.

PSSH also helps build affordable housing complexes for farm workers and their families. People’s Self- Help Housing owns and manages over 1,900 rental units in California. With that they are able to provide low cost, comfortable housing units to over 5,000 individuals and their families.  Canyon Creek is one example of PSHH’s efforts to not only increase the supply of affordable housing but also provide important services. PSSH has established a learning center and health screen clinic at the development. This provides the 69 farmworker families who reside at Canyon Creek access to important health and education resources. People’s Self- Help Housing has also helped many families and their children by offering site based programs such as after school tutoring and college prep. Thanks to these programs PSSH has made it possible for many young adults to be the first ones in their family to attend college.

Today, John Fowler leads PSSH. Throughout these 50 years PSSH has made access to affordable housing more available and has helped many low income communities and families prosper while also allowing them to have place that they can call home.


The Dwindling Supply of Affordable Rental Housing

In September 2019 Elizabeth La Jeunesse, Alexander Hermann, Daniel McCue and Jonathan Spader of the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, authored the paper  

Documenting the Long-Run Decline in Low-Cost Rental Units in the US by State. In this paper the researchers sought to answer the following questions: “1) has the number of low-cost rental units indeed declined since 1990, and if so, by how much? 2) Over which periods of time did this decline take place? And 3) are there any differences in the size and timing of losses across US states?  

The study conducted by the research team at the Joint Center found that for every 100 low income renter households there are only 58 affordable housing units available for them to rent. Overall from 1990 to 2017 the number of rental units available for $600 per month or less declined by 4.0 million units.   A monthly rent of $600 is the maximum an individual making $24,000 can afford. This decline is in stark contrast to the 10.9 million overall rental stock growth over the same time period.

The steepest decline in low income housing availability occurred during the 2012-2017 time period. During this 5 year period the amount of rental units available for less than $600 dropped from 14 million to 11 million units. The share of affordable rental housing stock also dropped from around 40% to just 25% during this 5 year period. 

Even though there are some variations in losses of rental units in all 50 states all states saw a decline in units. A total of 27 states and the District of Columbia saw almost a 1/3 loss in rental units for less than $600 dollars per month between 1990 and 2017. Only 16 states between the years of 1990 and 2017 saw less than a 20% decline in rental unit shares for less than $600 dollars a month. This decline in readily available affordable rental housing means that more and more low income individuals compete for fewer and fewer low cost rental units.

While the report does not address rental housing in rural America, other, previous Joint Center reports document the lack of affordable housing in small towns and farming communities. Rental housing where it is available, often costs too much.: 41 percent (5 million households) of rural renters are cost-burdened, meaning they pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing costs, and 21 percent (2.1 million households) of rural households that rent pay more than 50 percent of their income for housing.[1]

[1] Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, “America’s Rental Housing.” 2017.