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Key Issues

Barriers to Affordable Rural Housing

Housing options in rural America are too expensive, are of poor quality, or are inaccessible to many low-income families. Because of higher, more persistent levels of poverty and limited access to affordable mortgage credit, rural communities often struggle to meet the housing needs of its residents.

 

Barriers to Affordability

Although housing costs are generally lower in rural communities, lower incomes and higher poverty rates make housing options simply unaffordable for many rural residents.

In 2010, rural median incomes ($40,038) were 20 percent lower than the national median income ($50,046), and more than 23 percent less than median urban incomes ($51,998).

In the aftermath of our recent economic crisis, the U.S. poverty rate was at its highest level since 1993 at 15.1 percent. The rural poverty rate was even higher — at 16.5 percent.

It should be no surprise, therefore, that rural communities are four times more likely than urban areas to have at least 20 percent of their population living in poverty.

 

Poor Quality Housing

Rural low-income families are often limited to poor quality housing. Homes that are available are often in need of extensive repair or improvements to just meet basic health and safety levels. Rural homes are more likely to be in substandard conditions. In fact, nearly six percent of rural homes are either moderately or severely substandard, without hot water, or with leaking roofs, rodent problems, or inadequate heating or plumbing systems.

Recent research confirms the broad health and economic impacts of substandard housing conditions. Poor housing conditions contribute to signficant health problems — including infectious and chronic diseases, injuries, and poor childhood development. Children living in substandard housing are more likely to develop serious illnesses like asthma and lead poisoning, negatively affecting their educational achievement. One study conservatively estimated the cost of illness, disease, and disability attributable to substandard housing at $95 million each year.

 

Lack of Access to Afforable Credit

The lack of access to mortgage credit severely limits options for decent, clean, and affordable rural housing. Rural communities have more limited access to credit than urban areas. In addition, rural areas experience higher banking concentration than urban areas, resulting in less competition and consumer choice, higher prices, and ultimately, less access to affordable mortgage loans.

Even in those communities that do have a bank presence, however, low-income rural families still struggle to access affordable mortgages. Compared to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing programs, local banks are often unable to provide low-income borrowers — many of whom do not have enough savings to contribute a large down payment — with the low-cost mortgages they need.

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Blog

Latest Advocacy News

Take a look at our revamped Campaigns section to learn more about the Coalition’s latest advocacy efforts. Now – more than every – it’s critical to tell Congress to support the programs that build and preserve affordable housing in rural communities.

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Resources

Videos

Section 502 Direct Loans

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Learn about how Violet Lewis worked with the Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprises and Christian Outreach with Appalachian People to build a new home in Harlan County, Kentucky with a USDA Section 502 Direct Home Loan after her house was completely destroyed in a fire (ABOVE).[/one_half][one_half_last]

Learn about the impact of the Section 502 program–created by NRHC member organization, PathFinder Services (ABOVE).[/one_half_last]

Section 523 Mutual Self-Help Housing

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Check out NRHC Member Self-Help Enterprises’s new video on how low-income families work together under USDA’s Self-Help Housing program.

 

RCAC’s video about how low-income rural families have used the Self-Help Housing program to build their own homes  is available in English and Spanish.

[one_half]English: 

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[/one_half][one_half_last]Spanish:

[ylwm_vimeo]52519343[/ylwm_vimeo][/one_half_last]

 

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Resources

Testimony

_MG_2457Recent Testimony

NRHC and our members have testified before House and Senate Committees and other policymakers on the critical importance of rural housing programs. Below are copies are testimony recently delivered by NRHC members:

Bipartisan Housing Commission

  • October 1, 2012Robert A. Rapoza, National Rural Housing Coalition, before the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Housing on the future of federal housing policy.

Congressional Appropriations Committees

  • March 23, 2015 – Robert A. Rapoza, National Rural Housing Coalition, before the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies on the FY 16 Budget.
  • March 23, 2015 – Claudia Shay, Self-Help Housing Corporation of Hawaii, before the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies on the FY 16 Budget.
  • March 23, 2015 – Tom Collishaw, Self-Help Enterprises, before the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies on the FY 16 Budget.
  • March 23, 2015R. Scott McReynolds, Housing Development Alliance, before the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies on the FY 16 Budget.Pathstone 1
  • March 23, 2015 – Earl Pfeiffer, Florida Home Partnership, before the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies on the FY 16 Budget.
  • March 23, 2015 – Neal Gibson, Northwest Regional Housing Authority, before the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies on the FY 16 Budget.
  • March 23, 2015 – Joan Edge, Little Dixie Community Action Agency, before the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies on the FY 16 Budget.
  • March 23, 2015 – Brad Bishop, Rural Housing Development Corp, before the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies on the FY 16 Budget.

Banking/Financial Services Committees

  • May 25, 2011Peter Carey, Self-Help Enterprises and the National Rural Housing Coalition, before the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing, and Community Opportunity.
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Resources

News and Publications

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Publications

2017 Impact Report: The Economic and Human Impact of Nonprofit Organizations in Rural America 

This report documents the impact of nonprofit organizations in rural communities across the country. In FY 2016, the 104 responding organizations helped low-income families and communities secure $1 billion in financing to build, purchase, preserve, or rehabilitate 6,505 units of affordable housing and improved access to rural water and sewer systems for 138,115 of families.

[button link=”https://ruralhousingcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Impact-Report-FINAL-FOR-Web.pdf” color=”silver”] Read the report [/button]

Fifty Years of Self-Help Housing
The Mutual Self-Help Housing Program – Reflecting on Fifty Years of Success
A report commemorating the 50th anniversary and 50,000th home built through the Section 523 Mutual Self-Help Housing Program, which is designed to assist eligible families in achieving their dreams of homeownership.

[button link=”https://ruralhousingcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Fifty-Years-of-Self-Help-Housing.pdf” color=”silver”] Read the report [/button]

Report CoverImpact Report: The Economic and Human Impact of Nonprofit Organizations on Rural America

This report documents the impact of nonprofit organizations and their efforts to revitalize rural communities and improve rural housing conditions. In 2013, these organizations boosted rural economies by $380 million and created more than 40,000 jobs.

 [button link=”https://ruralhousingcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/2014-Impact-Report-and-Success-Stories-FINAL.compressed-1.pdf” color=”silver”] Read the report [/button]

Report Cover JPGRural America’s Rental Housing Crisis: Federal Strategies to Preserve Access to Affordable Rental Housing in Rural Communities

This report documents both the substantial contributions that federal rural housing programs have made to improving housing conditions in rural America and the challenges to preserving and maintaining these gains in an era of federal budget austerity.

 [button link=”https://ruralhousingcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/NRHC-Rural-America-Rental-Housing-Crisis_FINALV3.compressed.pdf” color=”silver”] Read the report [/button]

Cover PhotoThe Low-Income Housing Tax Credit: Overcoming Barriers to Affordable Housing in Rural America

Although the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) is widely considered one of the nation’s most successful federal housing programs, many lawmakers and advocates are unaware of the program’s critical impact in rural communities. Since its inception in 1986, LIHTC has financed the development and preservation of more than 270,000 units of affordable rental housing.

[button link=”https://ruralhousingcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/NRHC-Rural-America-Rental-Housing-Crisis_FINALV3.compressed.pdf” color=”silver”] Read the report [/button]

openingOpening 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.

[button link=”https://ruralhousingcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/Opening%20Doors%20to%20Rural%20Homeownership.pdf” color=”silver”] Read the report [/button]

Fact Sheets

factsheets
Download our two-page fact sheet on Mutual Self-Help Housing and Section 502 Direct Homeownership Loans.

[button color=”silver” link=”https://ruralhousingcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/nrhcRptOpeningDoorsAbridgeFactV22.pdf”] Read more [/button]

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Recent News Articles

news

September 9, 2015 – Nonprofit Quarterly discusses the Rural Policy Platforms, or lack thereof, of the Presidential Candidates in an article by Rick Cohen.

September 11, 2013 – VTDigger discusses the impact of the Rural Definition issue in Colchester, Essex, and Milton, Vermont.

September 9, 2013 – North Dakota State Director Jasper Schneider knows that USDA Rural Housing programs are often the only source of affordable housing in smaller communities.

September 9, 2013 – Alaska Business Monthly and other publications quote USDA State Director Jim Norland on the impact of the rural definition issue. “The areas being eliminated are still rural by any common sense point of view,” he said.

September 5, 2013 – The Fresno Bee talks to NRHC Member Tom Collishaw with Self-Help Enterprises about the impact of the Rural Definition issue in California.

August 30, 2013 – Residents of Chambersburg, PA will lose their eligibility for USDA Rural Housing programs, unless Congress extends the rural definition.

August 26, 2013 – KFVS Channel 12 in Illinois explains how the rural definition will impact their state.

August 21, 2013 – The Twin Cities Daily Planet quotes NRHC member Chip Halbach at the Minnesota Housing Partnership about the low-income families in their state that will lose their USDA Rental Assistance due to sequestration budget cuts.

July 16, 2013 – MSNBC warns that because of sequestration,15,000 rural residents may lose their rental assistance.

July 8, 2013 – The Crossville Chronicle highlights the Self-Help Housing program at the Crossville Housing Authority in Tennessee.

June 28, 2013 – The Davis family in Old Orchard Beach, Maine celebrated Homeownership Month in their new home, financed with a USDA Section 502 Guaranteed Loan.

June 21, 2013 – Bob Rapoza was featured on Wisconsin Public Radio about the importance of investing in USDA Rural Housing programs.

May 7, 2013 – NRHC Member Little Dixie Community Action Agency recently completed construction on 82 homes, built under their Self-Help Housing program.

April 19, 2013 – Sen. Pat Roberts and Sen. Tim Johnson introduce legislation to preserve access to USDA Rural Housing programs.

April 15, 2013 – Bob Rapoza was quoted in the Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, arguing that the President’s FY14 Budget skewers Rural Development programs. A copy of NRHC’s  Press Release can be found here.

December 19, 2012 – Scott McReynolds of the Housing Development Alliance was featured on WYMT TV as the organization completed their 178th home – just in time for the Campbell family to move in before Christmas.

May 25, 2012 – NRHC’s Letter to the Editor regarding a Wall Street Journal article on USDA debt collection practices, and NRHC’s Letter to USDA Secretary Vilsack.

June 16, 2011 – San Francisco Chronicle article on Self-Help Housing in California

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