Today, NRHC submitted comments on USDA’ s proposed rule that would allow the agency to seek civil damages against those who make false, fictitious, or fraudulent claims. While NRHC supports USDA’s ability to seek damages, we urged the agency to amend the proposal to ensure that nonprofit organizations are not unfairly impacted by this proposed rule and to included clearer standards.
In his Year-End Report, Rep. Fortenberry (R-NE) discusses his common-sense Rural Definition legislation, H.R. 273 The Rural Housing Preservation Act. Rep. Fortenberry warns that without Congressional action on his bill, more than 900 rural communities will lose access to what is often their only source of federal housing funding. “For communities across the nation, [changes to the definition of rural] could mean the difference between continued economic struggle and a stronger recovery.”
Learn more about how the Rural Definition issue impacts your community and what you can do to help ensure that low-income families can continue to access critical USDA Rural Housing programs!
The NRHC Board of Directors will be holding their next Board Meeting on March 5-6th. The Board will meet on the morning of March 5th, with Hill visits later in the afternoon. The Board will reconvene on the morning of March 6th.
Rural housing organizations are in the midst of a very challenging political climate. Congress and the President are under increased pressure to continue to cut government spending. In this difficult environment, rural housing and community development programs must find new and better ways to demonstrate their impact and effectiveness.
That’s why I invite all rural housing organizations to participate in our 2013 Impact Survey. Please only submit one survey per organization.
Take the NRHC 2013 Impact Survey by February 15!
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. To help us strengthen our voice on Capitol Hill, send this survey to other rural housing organizations in your communities and ask them to participate.
Please complete this survey and return it to Sarah Mickelson at firstname.lastname@example.org by February 15, 2013. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Sarah via email or at 202-204-3952. And, remember to submit the survey only once; a number of organizations are assisting NRHC in disseminating the survey, so you may receive it from many sources.
For more information, read our 2013 NRHC Impact Survey Introduction.
Board of Directors Meeting Rescheduled For March 5-6
The NRHC Board of Directors Meeting has been rescheduled for March 5th-6th, instead of March 19-20 as previously announced. The Board decided that it would be best to reschedule the meeting for an earlier date in light of changes to Congress’s schedule on the debt ceiling and budget issues.
We will share a detailed agenda as we get closer to the meeting.
Today, USDA released its 2012 Rural Development Progress Report detailing how it invested in job creation, businesses, infrastructure and housing in rural communities. While we already know the critical impact of these programs in our communities, it’s always helpful to have some numbers, facts, and figures.
Did you know? In 2012, Rural Housing programs helped:
- 7,940 families access safe, affordable homes, through approximately $900.9 million in Section 502 Direct Loans;
- 145,100 families purchase their homes with the help of a Section 502 Guaranteed Loan;
- 7,000 homeowners repair their homes with a home repair loan or grant;
- 270,000 families access affordable rental housing through $904.7 million in rental assistance; and
- 1,700 families move into new apartments through $122.6 million in rental housing development, $104.3 million in rental guaranteed loans, and $5.5 million in housing for farm workers and their families.
Remember, this is a great resource to share with your Senators and Representatives. Let them know what’s at stake if Congress fails to act and the new “rural” definition takes effect!
Milestone on a Long Road to Success
By Kathy Heinrichs Wiest
Edith Arreguis can already picture herself and her son, Leixander, enjoying their new home in Goshen, California, a small unincorporated community of 3,000 in Tulare County in the San Joaquin Valley. Because options for safe, decent, and affordable housing are limited in Goshen, Edith turned to Self-Help Enterprises and its Mutual Self-Help Housing program to help her give a better life to her son. Self-Help Enterprises provided construction supervision and financial counseling to support Edith and 9 other families as they built their own homes.
Edith’s search for suitable housing for her son was a challenge. The waiting list was long for government subsidized housing. The cost of a mortgage on a house in a safe neighborhood was out of the question. So Edith and Leixander live in a small room in an apartment shared with Edith’s mom, stepdad, and three siblings.
The dream of providing a better life for her son carried Edith through the hard work required to build a Self-Help Home. Despite the struggles of being a single mother, Edith contributed over 1,300 hours to help build her home and the homes of 9 other families in the program. “Sometimes I’m here [working on the house] from 7 to 11 and then I run home and shower and get to my job. I might not see my baby till ten at night. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.”
For Edith, finishing and moving into her house is more of a milestone on her journey than an end goal in and of itself. She is eager to get settled because it means there will be time again to pursue her education. Her goal: to become a surgical nurse.
Building her own house allows Edith to provide a secure home for her son, and continue toward her career goals. “If I’d get a normal house, I wouldn’t be able to go to school because it would be too expensive,” she reflects. “There are a lot of people like me who can’t afford going to school, having a job, and paying their mortgage.” By building her own home under Self-Help Enterprises’ program, Edith was able to use her sweat equity as a down payment and save 10 percent on her mortgage loan. This translates into $100 less in bills each month that she can use to save for her son’s education or for a rainy day.
With these ambitious goals, Edith is well on the way to fulfilling her dream of providing a good life for her son. “Even though I am so tired,” she says, “I will never regret this opportunity.”
[box color=”silver”]Self-Help Enterprises is largely credited with pioneering the concept of organized Mutual Self-Help Housing in the United States. Since 1965, SHE has served thousands of low-income, rural families in San Joaquin Valley, California and has served as the model for similar organizations around the world. Over 45 years, SHE has assisted over 5,779 families build their own homes in over 90 communities.[/box]
Rural Housing Coalition releases “Opening Doors to Rural Homeownership: Opportunities to Expand Homeownership, Build Wealth, and Strengthen Communities”
The purpose of this report is to document successful federal strategies for providing affordable housing to low-income rural families. Because homeownership is the predominate form of housing in rural America, this report focuses on homeownership programs administered by the u.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) through its Rural Housing Service (RHS).in particular, this report analyzes the impact of the Section 502 Direct Loan program and the Section 523 Mutual Self-Help Housing program. By examining the successful track records of these programs, and by adopting practical measures to expand and improve their performance, our nation can better address the unique housing challenges in rural America.
NRHC thanks Capital One for its generous support in helping to raise awarness of this report.
- Read the report
National Rural Housing Coalition members believe that all rural people — regardless of income — deserve access to basic community services, like safe water and sewer systems. Today, many rural communities have severely limited access to a clean and affordable water supply and are considered to live in “water poverty.” USDA’s Rural Water and Sewer programs help provide some of the poorest and more remote rural communities with access to such basic services.
USDA’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) is the primary federal force in rural water and waste development, providing loans and grants to low-income communities in rural areas. The agency assists low-income rural communities that would not otherwise be able to afford such services. Approximately one-fifth of the communities served live below the national poverty line.
[button link=”https://ruralhousingcoalition.org/rural-water-sewer-programs” color=”silver”]Learn more [/button]
National Rural Housing Coalition members support the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Section 514/516 Farm Labor Housing programs that aim to improve the quality of life and economic opportunity for America’s rural farmworkers. Today, farmworkers have the worst housing needs of all rural people. More than 60 percent of the 3 million farmworkers in the U.S live in poverty−a rate 5 times the national average. As such, farmworkers must overcome powerful barriers to decent housing, forcing many to live in substandard, crowded conditions.
Section 514/516 is the only federal program that provides affordable loans and grants to purchase, construct, or repair housing for America’s farmworkers. Funds may also be used to install necessary facilities, including water and waste disposal systems.
[button link=”https://ruralhousingcoalition.org/section-514516-farm-labor-housing” color=”silver”]Learn more [/button]