News

HAC News: July 7, 2022

TOP STORIES

USDA requests temporary waiver for “Buy America,” HUD extends comment deadline.

USDA RD, HUD, and other federal agencies are subject to a “Build America, Buy America” requirement in the Infrastructure Investment and Job Act of 2021, which mandates that iron, steel, manufactured products, and construction materials used in infrastructure projects be American made. The law applies to any federally funded project considered to be infrastructure, even if the funding is not provided by the Infrastructure Act.

  • USDA Rural Development has asked OMB to approve a waiver so recipients of RD funding would not have to apply the requirement for six months. Comments on the waiver request can be submitted to OCFO.ffac@usda.gov by July 18. USDA did not include any RD housing or community facilities programs on its initial list of infrastructure programs, which focuses instead on utilities and broadband activities. RD did include housing and CF in its waiver request, however, on a list of programs it intends to evaluate under the new law.
  • HUD has extended the deadline for comments on its implementation of the requirement to July 15 rather than July 1. HUD seeks input on topics such as what HUD-financed projects might fall under exemptions from the requirement, how materials are currently sourced, and more. It also asks what HUD programs might be considered to fund infrastructure in addition to those on a previously published list that includes HOME, CDBG, and SHOP. For more information, contact Pamela Blumenthal, HUD, 202-402-7012.

House committee advances HUD spending bill.

On June 30, the House Appropriations Committee approved its Transportation-HUD funding bill for fiscal year 2023. The committee passed its USDA bill on June 23. The full House is expected to vote on these and other appropriations bills later in July. The Senate has not yet begun considering its FY23 funding measures.

RuralSTAT

As of July 6, there have been more than 12 million reported cases and 181,985 reported deaths from COVID-19 in rural America. Source: Housing Assistance Council tabulations of public health data from the New York Times.

OPPORTUNITIES

Information available about HUD unsheltered and rural homelessness funds.

Resources are compiled online for housing and service providers hoping to participate in HUD’s Continuum of Care Supplemental to Address Unsheltered and Rural Homelessness. Each Continuum of Care will establish its own process and deadlines to invite and evaluate applications from local projects that can be included in its application, which must be submitted to HUD by October 20. HUD’s notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) and a variety of resources are posted, and the department has established an email address, SpecialCoCNOFO@hud.gov, for questions. Counties and county equivalents where the Rural Set Aside can be used are listed in the NOFO’s Appendix B. The National Alliance to End Homelessness offers information as well.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

List of distressed or underserved geographies outside metro areas released.

The federal bank regulatory agencies have published their annual list of distressed or underserved middle-income geographies outside metropolitan areas. Bank financing for community development in these places is eligible for Community Reinvestment Act consideration.

Duty to Serve listening sessions scheduled.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency will hold virtual listening sessions to hear from stakeholders about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s obligations to reach three underserved markets. On July 11 the subject will be affordable housing preservation, focusing on preserving the affordability of LIHTC properties. On July 12, a manufactured housing session will focus on tenant protections. A rural housing session will be held July 13 on Native American housing and will include testimony from HAC board member Dave Castillo, CEO of Native Community Capital. Written comments can be submitted through FHFA’s website. For more information, email dutytoservestakeholders@FHFA.gov.

Nominations reopen for HUD Tribal advisory committee.

HUD will accept nominations for its Intergovernmental Tribal Advisory Committee until July 28. It has withdrawn its June 22 request for comments on the committee’s creation because that was previously published in November 2021.

USDA extends waivers for Section 504 home repair pilot.

A pilot program has been in effect in several states since 2019, waiving some regulatory provisions to make the Section 504 repair program easier for very low-income homeowners to use. USDA incorporated some of the relevant waivers in a 2021 final rule, and now is extending two others through July 8, 2024. For more information, contact Anthony Williams, USDA, 202-720-9649.

FEMA provided $350 million in aid to heirs’ property residents and others.

In recent testimony to a Senate committee, FEMA Director Deanne Criswell highlighted the agency’s efforts to reduce barriers to its programs for heirs’ property residents and others without official ownership or rental documents. A policy change in August 2021 allowing claimants to use alternate forms of documentation to prove land control has resulted in approval of 2,000 homeowners and 53,000 renters for around $350 million in assistance.

“Rural area” determinations modified for non-housing programs.

The 2018 Farm Bill changed how population is counted in determining what is a “rural area” for some of USDA Rural Development’s non-housing programs. (The housing programs use a different definition of “rural area.”) “Individuals incarcerated on a long-term or regional basis” and “the first 1,500 individuals who reside in housing located on a military base” are now excluded from population calculations. RD has adopted a final regulation incorporating these changes, published a list of communities that are now eligible, and updated its eligibility mapping tools. For more information, contact John Delaney, RD, 202-720-9705.

More USDA Rural Development State Directors named.

With the addition of State Directors in Kansas and Texas, the only jurisdiction that still has an Acting State Director is Puerto Rico. HAC has updated its list of all USDA RD State Directors appointed by President Biden to date. These positions do not require Senate confirmation.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Native Hawaiians waiting for homesteads.

We Need to Talk About Hawaii: Why After 100 Years Hawaiians Are Still Fighting for their Land, an Enterprise Community Partners blog post written by former HAC researcher Evelyn Immonen, summarizes the history that has left 29,000 Native Hawaiians waiting to receive trust land allotments, 100 years after the passage of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act.

Freddie Mac to consider on-time rent payments in mortgage underwriting.

Beginning this month, homebuyers will have the option to ask mortgage lenders to include bank account data showing 12 months of rent payment history for Freddie Mac’s underwriting consideration. The change is intended to increase homeownership opportunities for first-time homebuyers.

Reports consider how to define and measure rural development success.

What (and Who) Counts? Defining Rural Development Success shares practitioners’ perspectives on definitions. Measure Up: A Call to Action highlights six principles for measuring rural development progress that considers lower-capacity communities’ realities, needs, and goals. It offers recommendations and an annotated list of resources. Both are published by Aspen Community Strategies Group.

Inland floods’ impact described.

How Inland America is Adapting to High Water, an article published by Grist, features interviews from mostly rural communities in Iowa, Montana, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. Local leaders and residents describe the psychological aftermath of destructive flooding, environmental damage, and how decisions about rebuilding and planning for future flooding affect housing affordability.

HAC

HAC seeks Portfolio Manager, Self Help Housing; Loan Officer, Rental Preservation; and Housing Specialist – Native American Communities.

  • The Portfolio Manager, Self Help Housing, is responsible for asset management, monitoring, and reporting for a portfolio of primarily self-help housing loans made to rural affordable housing entities throughout the U.S. These responsibilities include SHOP grant management and compliance activities. This position is eligible for telecommuting.
  • The Loan Officer, Rental Preservation, conducts rental housing lending and preservation technical assistance activities. This work includes marketing, originating, and underwriting new loan transactions in the Loan Fund Division. The Loan Officer also provides hands-on technical assistance to nonprofits that are seeking to acquire and preserve existing USDA-financed (Section 515) rental developments. This position is eligible for telecommuting.
  • The Housing Specialist – Native American Communities is responsible for providing direct technical assistance, coaching, and training to tribal communities, tribal housing departments, tribal housing authorities, and nonprofit organizations serving tribal communities. Travel is required. This position is eligible for telecommuting.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan fund provides low interest rate loans to support single- and multifamily affordable housing projects for low-income rural residents throughout the U.S. and territories. Capital is available for all types of affordable and mixed-income housing projects, including preservation, new development, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development, construction/rehabilitation and permanent financing. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at hacloanfund@ruralhome.org, 202-842-8600.

Please note: HAC is not able to offer loans to individuals or families. Borrowers must be nonprofit or for-profit organizations or government entities (including tribes).

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