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. 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.
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. 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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
written and verbal communications skills; a persuasive and passionate communicator with excellent
interpersonal and multidisciplinary project skills.
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.
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
Reasonable accommodations may be
made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform essential functions of
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
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
This position is posted on
Indeed.com 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.
On November 28 and 29, the National Rural Housing Coalition (NRHC) convened for its Board of Directors Meeting and Annual Business Meeting in Washington, D.C. As a part of these meetings, NRHC invited officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development (RD) Rural Housing Service (RHS), staff from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), and facilitated a panel on issues facing the rural rental housing market.
Attendees received a legislative update from NRHC Executive Secretary Bob Rapoza. In addition, the Coalition hosted a reception on Capitol Hill, where rural housing champion Representative Jim Costa (D-CA) spoke about the importance of USDA’s housing programs for rural Americans.
Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett joined the NRHC Board for its meeting on November 28, along with several staff members from the RHS, including Acting Administrator of RHS Rich Davis; Acting Deputy Administrator for Single Family Housing Programs Cathy Glover; Direct Loan Division Director Barry Ramsey; Deputy Administrator for Multifamily Housing Joyce Allen; Finance and Loan Analyst for Multifamily Housing Preservation and Direct Loan Division Mirna Reyes-Bible.
Ms. Hazlett shared her vision for RD and the rural housing programs going forward. Although she has only been in the Assistant to the Secretary role for six months, she is familiar with USDA from her time on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. However, she stated that she is still coming up to speed on rural housing programs, but emphasized her view that “housing is not just a roof over someone’s head, it can be an anchor that brings stability.” Priorities for the Administration include infrastructure, building partnerships, and identifying innovative solutions to the challenges facing rural America.
Each member of the RHS team also presented on their particular areas of work. Ms. Glover and the Single Family Housing staff members discussed the status of the Section 502 Direct Intermediary packaging program, Mutual Self-Help rehab for both acquisition rehab and owner-occupied rehab; and updates to their electronic filing system. November 28 was Joyce Allen’s fist day as the Deputy Administrator of Multifamily Housing programs (she had previously been the Deputy Administrator of Single-Family Housing programs).
The USDA presenters also left time at the end of their session for questions and answers from the audience. This gave NRHC Board members the opportunity to seek additional information or clarification. Specifically, Ms. Hazlett was asked to address the hiring freeze, which remains in effect. She took this opportunity to emphasize the importance of innovating and evaluating. She said that they are looking at their programs to identify potential partners, like with the Section 502 Direct program. They are also evaluating how USDA RD staff in the field spend their time.
On the Rural Economic Infrastructure Grant proposal, which the Coalition has expressed opposition to, Board members had the opportunity to tell Ms. Hazlett why grouping Section 504 Grants and Housing Preservation Grants is short sighted because it will reduce the availability of predictable resources for rural housing rehabilitation and preservation. NRHC was also able to recommend increasing Section 504 grants to $15,000 per grant (double the current limit).
Reception on the Hill
On the evening of November 28, NRHC hosted a reception on the Hill in recognition of the importance of rural housing programs. This event, which was sponsored by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), who led the Senate appropriations sign-on letter earlier in the year, gave NRHC members a chance to engage Hill staffers about these important programs.
In addition, NRHC welcomed Representative Costa, who co-led the House Appropriations sign-on letter with Representative Sean Duffy (R-WI) in the spring. Rep. Costa, who is a champion for rural issues and rural housing programs on the Hill, discussed his appreciation for the work that NRHC member organizations do to ensure that rural families have access to safe and affordable housing.
Shiv Rawal, a Policy Analyst with the Office of Housing and Community Investment at the FHFA, gave an update on the Duty to Serve Rule and the 2017 plan development process and status. Under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have a Duty to Serve three underserved markets – manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation, and rural housing – in a safe and sound manner for residential properties that serve very low-, low-, and moderate-income families.
NRHC has commented on the Duty to Serve rule several times, including the proposed rule, which was issued in December 2015 and Fannie and Freddie’s proposed Underserved market plans this summer. Mr. Rawal informed attendees that FHFA has be working with the Enterprises to update their Underserved Markets Plan incorporating both public input and FHFA feedback. The plans, which should be released any day, go in to effect on January 1, 2018.
Rental Housing Panel
On November 29, NRHC hosted a panel featuring Tanya Eastwood, the President of Greystone Affordable Development, Richard Price, a Partner at NixonPeabody, and David Lipsetz, the Executive Director of the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) (click here for the presentations).
The panel also featured a review of the Coalition’s findings in the 2017 Review of Federal Rural Rental Housing Programs, Policies, and Practices. USDA rental housing is frequently the only affordable rental housing available in rural communities. The average income for tenants is $12,729 annually, many (around 44 percent) are elderly or persons with disabilities and 70.9 percent are female headed households. USDA estimates that $5.596 billion in additional funding is needed over the next 20 years to preserve USDA’s rental housing portfolio. Renovation of these developments is particularly important because USDA no longer provides loans for the financing of new rental housing developments in rural America.
Richard Price presented first, and discussed where things stand currently on the Hill and with the Administration on addressing the maturing mortgage issue. He identified several challenges facing the portfolio, including the state of Rural Development under the new Administration, and addressing issues related to processing times and the complexity of transfer applications.
Tanya Eastwood presented on Greystone’s success in preservation of Section 515 properties. In total, Greystone has purchased 269 Section 515 properties, totaling 10,500 units. The total cost of these preservation projects was $1.3 billion. Greystone’s model is a portfolio approach, where projects across a state are grouped together. This allows a developer to take the fixed cost of preservation deals and spread them across multiple projects, making the cost of a 4 percent Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) deal less expensive than a 9 percent deal.
Greystone recently completed a portfolio renovation deal in Florida, which involves 24 properties. This was completed with deferral of Section 515 payments. Sixty-two percent of the units receive rental assistance. After the project was completed, the rent-per-unit decreased an average of $23 a month. Ms. Eastwood emphasized that the portfolio approach not only benefits the tenants by keeping rents affordable, but also spurs economic growth and investment in rural communities, in the form of jobs as well as infrastructure advances (such as new sidewalks or bus stops).
David Lipsetz provided insight from both his experience as the Associate Administrator for Rural Housing and Community Facilities at USDA and as the new Executive Director of HAC. In particular, he highlighted the data improvements at USDA.
If you are interested in joining NRHC or learning more about the work that we do, please review our membership page and contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Self-Help Enterprises celebrated National Homeownership Month and NeighborWorks Week in Traver, CA on June 22, 2017. Attendees at the event included Joyce Allen, USDA Rural Development Deputy Administrator for Single Family Housing, and Gary Wolfe, NeighborWorks America Western Region Vice President. During the celebration, Self-Help Enterprises recognized over 150 youth and adults from the La Casa de Cristo Church in Scottsdale, AZ, who volunteered for four days (June 19-22) to help families in Traver build their own homes.
Under Self-Help Enterprises’ supervision, 11 families are building their own homes through the Mutual Self-Help Housing program in Traver, CA. Families are projected to move into the Traver, CA subdivision in March 2018. Working with the County, Self-Help Enterprises purchased and developed the subdivision. The County is developing plans to improve the community’s infrastructure. In addition, Family HealthCare Network has completed a health clinic facility on a nearby site.
The Mutual Self-Help Housing program is essential for rural communities like Traver, which lack new affordable housing options. Working in groups of nine to 12, Mutual Self-Help families provide over 70 percent of the construction labor on their homes, contributing at least 40 hours a week towards completion. These labor hours count as “sweat equity,” which helps to bring down the construction costs and is used as a down payment on the home.
Self-Help Enterprises, a National Rural Housing Coalition member organization, has pioneered the Mutual Self-Help Housing program. Since its founding in 1965, Self-Help Enterprises has helped more than 6,200 families in the San Joaquin Valley build their own homes.
For more information about Self-Help Enterprises, please visit their website.
National Rural Housing Coalition member organization, Self-Help Housing Corporation of Hawaii (SHHCH) hosted a ground breaking ceremony on June 21, 2017 in Waianae. Twelve families are set to begin construction on their new homes, and once the Pokai Bay Project is completed, there will be 70 Mutual Self-Help built homes in the community.
SHHCH is a nonprofit organization that provides technical assistance to low-income families in Hawaii that enables the families to build their own homes through the team self-help housing method. Over the past 52 years, SHHCH has helped families develop 656 homes in Hawaii with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Mutual Self-Help Housing program.
With the Mutual Self-Help Housing program, teams of 6 to 12 families are paired together to help build each other’s homes. With SHHCH, each family contributes 16 hours of labor each weekend over the course of a year to complete construction. No family moves in until all of the homes for the group are completed. SHHCH works with the families to secure the necessary financing from the government, including the Section 502 Direct Home Loan program, other nonprofit organizations, and private lenders. The families earn “sweat equity” by working to build their own homes the, thereby reducing purchase and construction costs.
Mutual Self-Help Housing is an innovative and essential program for low-income families across America. Because the families are able to earn sweat equity, families earning under 80 percent of the area median (AMI) income are able to become homeowners. In fact, in the Waianae community, 58 of the 70 self-help homes will be specified for families earning 80 percent of the AMI and 12 homes will be for families earning 50 percent of the AMI. The median price for a previously-owned home on Oahu is $745,000. Comparatively, these self-help families will purchase their homes in fee-simple for $295,000.
SHHCH purchased the land that the 70 homes will sit on in 2013 for $6.2 million, including $3.1 million from the Hawaii Housing Finance Development Corporation. In addition, the Rural Community Assistance Corporation contributed $3.2 million and the Housing Assistance Council contributed $2.5 million.
Attendees at the ground breaking included Hawaii State Senator Maile Shimabukuro; Hawaii State Representative Cedric Gates; SHHCH Construction Supervisor Joseph Ching; Hawaii Housing Finance & Development Corporation Development Manager Rick Prahler; SHHCH Executive Director Claudia Shay; Hawaii Housing Finance & Development Corporation Executive Director Craig Hirai representing Governor David Ige; and Sandeth “Ali” Sek representing U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard.
Greystone Affordable Development, an affordable housing development company and a member of the National Rural Housing Coalition (NRHC), and Winterwood, Inc., a property management company, recently celebrated the reopening of 18 newly-renovated affordable housing communities in Kentucky. All of the properties were financed through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Section 515 program and ranged from 12 to 60 units per property.
In total, 563 units located in 14 counties were included in the recapitalization and rehabilitation project, which was completed in just 12 months. Greystone worked with Winterwood, USDA’s Rural Housing Service (both the Washington, D.C. and Kentucky State Offices), the Kentucky Housing Corporation, and the Community Affordable Housing Equity Corporation to secure the necessary financing, which totaled $65 million. Rural Development’s Multifamily Preservation and Revitalization Program was essential to the project, and contributed to a $22 rent decrease per unit.
Nearly half of the rehabilitated units (253 units) used energy incentives and rebates through the Louisville Gas and Electric Company and the Kentucky Utilities Company, increasing the energy efficiency of these units by 30 percent.
Greystone Affordable Development, an affiliate of Greystone & Co., Inc., is a leader in the development, recapitalization, rehabilitation, and preservation of affordable rural rental housing. Including the recently completed Kentucky project, Greystone has managed the preservation and rehabilitation of over 8,200 rental units and has another 5,800 in various stages of completion.
For more information about the project and the grand opening, please see Greystone’s press release.
On Tuesday, April 4, the National Rural Housing Coalition (NRHC) released its 2017 Impact Report. The report, which was funded through the generous contribution of Capital One, included the findings from the 2017 Impact Survey as well as the success stories from 23 rural housing organizations.
The purpose of the Impact Report is to inform policy makers and the public of the broad economic and human impact of nonprofit housing organizations – and the programs that they utilize. The survey asked organizations to respond to seven categories, including homeownership activities, rental housing activities, and clean water and sewer activities. In addition, the survey also asked for organizations that provide housing counseling, technical assistance, or are Community Development Financial Institutions, Community Development Corporations or Intermediaries to respond on their activities. The survey analyzed data from 104 organization of their activity in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016.
In FY 2016, the 104 responding nonprofit housing 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. This resulted in the creation of 13,920 jobs, over $816.43 million generated income, and $442.2 million in tax revenue.
Other key findings from the report include:
84 organizations assisted 3,139 families in rural communities with rehabilitating, constructing, or purchasing their homes. Further, there were 24,104 families on the waiting lists of 26 organizations.
59 organizations helped 378 families participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Mutual Self-Help Housing Program. These families contributed over $6.885 million in sweat equity by assisting each other in the construction of their homes – averaging $18,215 per family.
4 organizations secured over $92 million in financing for 106 water or sewer projects for construction of new systems, repairing or replacing existing systems, consolidating systems, or addressing regulatory compliance issues and provided technical assistance on 97 projects, totaling some $64.35 million.
NRHC presented the findings from the Report at a briefing on the Hill in the Capitol Visitor Center on the evening of April 4. In addition to the findings from the briefing, five organizations presented on case studies that are included in the report. Their presentations are provided below.
Marty Miller, the Executive Director of the Office of Rural and Farmworker Housing in Yakima, WA, presented on the Esperanza Development, which serves the farmworker community Mattawa, WA. This project was funded by USDA Section 514 and 516 farmworker housing programs, as well as over $1 million in additional funding from the Washington State Housing Trust Fund.
Julie Bornstein, the Executive Director of the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition, presented on the Los Jardines community. This community, located in Coachella, CA, is made up of 205 single-family homes constructed through the Mutual Self-Help Housing program. The homeowners worked together in groups of 10 to 12 families for 10 to 12 months for 40 hours per week to build their homes, earning sweat equity equivalent to a down payment in the process.
Karen Speakman, the Deputy Director of NCALL Research, Inc., presented on the Chandler Heights II preservation project, in Seaford, DE. The 24 unit property was constructed in 1992 with a Section 515 Loan. The rental units needed significant overhaul due to water damage, poor drainage, and other issues. Today, in addition to new roofs, siding, and other upgrades, Chandler Heights II has 4 new 1 bedroom units and a handicap accessible playground.
Selvin McGahee, the Executive Director of Florida Non-Profit Housing, Inc., presented on the Casa San Juan Bosco II development. After Hurricane Charley devastated Desoto County, FL, the Catholic Charities and Diocese of Venice reached out to FNPH to address the loss of housing in the area. Using USDA Section 514 and 516 and financing from the Florida Housing Finance Agency, FNPH developed 53 single-family rental homes for farmworkers and their families.
Kathy Tyler, Housing Services Director at Motivation Education & Training, Inc., presented on a single-family housing rehab project. The home was owned by a farmworker family made up of parents and two children. The home had holes in the walls and a dirt floor. Construction was provided by farmworker construction trainees enrolled in the Southwest Texas Junior College and funding from the Department of Labor-National Farmworker Jobs Program, HUD and USDA, as well as other state and local sources.
The lack of adequate water and waste disposal systems is a major infrastructure need of rural America and it is directly link to another pressing infrastructure need – substandard housing.
Most violations of federal drinking water standards are made by small communities with limited resources to dedicate to compliance. Small and rural drinking water systems constitute nearly 85 percent of the 53,000 community water systems in America. The 2013 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Drinking Needs Assessment indicated a national need of $64.5 billion for small community water systems. This represents 17.4 percent of total national need. The lack of adequate water and waste water systems has a direct impact on the quality of housing. The American Community Survey found that almost 630,000 occupied households in the country lack complete plumbing facilities – meaning they do not have one of the following: a toilet, tub, shower or running water.
President Trump proposed to triple funding for EPA’s Safe Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs), which would make $6 billion available. However while approximately 96 percent of all health-based violations occur in systems serving a population of less than 10,000, less than a third of the SRF outlays are directed at these same small systems. Thus, this proposal would not meet the needs of America’s small towns.
The National Rural Housing Coalition has recommended that 20 percent of the new proposed level of funding for EPA’s SRFs be transferred to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for use in its water and waste disposal loan and grant program and Sections 504 and 533 repair programs. USDA’s Water and Sewer loan and grant financing program is a key component of economic development in rural America. The agency boasts a portfolio of more than 18,000 active water/sewer loans, more than 19 million rural residents served, and a delinquency rate of just 0.18 percent. USDA is better equipped to address rural community facilities needs than state SRFs.
With the USDA Section 504 Loan and Grant program and the Section 533 Housing Preservation Grant program, rural communities have been able to address substandard housing needs that stem from a lack of adequate plumbing. These programs can provide critical assistance to shore up this infrastructure. For example, with an expanded HPG grant of $400,000 and $370,000 in leveraged funds, Self-Help Enterprises in California provided basic health and safety improvements and drill on-site water wells for 23 families in the drought-ravaged San Joaquin Valley.
The bottom line is that the Administration and Congress should take a holistic approach to addressing America’s infrastructure needs, and include funding for housing and water/wastewater systems in any infrastructure package.
This article is the sixth in a blog series of the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding that ties housing to infrastructure. To read the other blog posts, please click here.
In an article published in the December 2016 issue ofSmithsonian Magazine, author Dale Maharidge chronicled the struggles that many of America’s working poor, including high poverty rates, housing affordability issues and food-scarcity. While just over 43 million people, or 13.5 percent of the population, live below the poverty line ($11,880) in the United States, over 31 percent – over 101 million – of Americans are considered “low-income,” meaning they make no more than $48,600 for a family of four or $23,760 for a single person. These families’ low-incomes means that affording safe housing is frequently an issue, particularly because of the ever-increasing cost of housing.
A portion of the article is dedicated to America’s farmworkers. Even though these people work long, back-breaking shifts, due in part to the seasonal nature of farming crops, these families often face great difficulty in affording basic necessities – like a safe place to call home and decent food – even while working full-time.
In California’s Central Valley, where Self-Help Enterprises, Inc. works, farms growing 250 different crops produce a fourth of the nation’s food. The article noted that since SHE was founded in 1965, it has helped family participants create over 6,200 homes in the region through the self-help housing program, which allows participants to use “sweat equity” in place of a down payment. By contributing at least 40 hours a week over the roughly one-year construction period, the families complete 65 percent of the labor in their homes with the help of their future neighbors.
On November 30, 2016, Bob Rapoza presented at the Housing Assistance Council 2016 Rural Housing Conference in Washington, D.C.. The National Rural Housing Coalition Plenary session included a discussion on what the results of the 2016 Presidential election mean for rural housing.