Monday, December 21, 2015

HUD rural housing program for high-poverty areas has not been funded since 2011

The Health Services Center in Hobson City, Ala., got a Rural
Housing and Economic Development grant (Yonder photo)

The Rural Housing and Economic Development fund, created in 1999 to provide about $25 million in 100 grants to rural nonprofits and tribes, mostly in high-poverty areas, hasn't been funded since 2011, Joe Belden reports for the Daily Yonder. Since being created and funded by Congress—and implemented by the Department of Housing and Urban Development—every president's proposed federal budget for HUD has called for the elimination of the rural program, mostly on incorrect information that it duplicates Department of Agriculture rural housing programs, Belden writes.

Sen. Kit Bond (R-Missouri), chairman of the VA-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee, created the RHED program and fought for it every year he was in office, Belden writes. Boyd retired in 2011and "in the very next appropriations cycle the president’s budget request for HUD dropped the Rural Innovation Fund."

"A perhaps equally frustrating tale—at least for rural advocates—is that of the HUD Rural Housing Stability Assistance program," Belden writes. "As part of a larger 2009 bill reauthorizing and revising federal programs for the homeless, Congress created the RHSA program to serve the rural homeless. HUD issued regulations for RHSA in 2013, with nonprofits and local government as eligible applicants. Congress has appropriated funds for RHSA for the last several years, but as part of a larger HUD account to combat homelessness generally."

"HUD has determined each year that there are insufficient funds to keep the bigger program renewed and also fund RHSA," Belden writes. "So HUD has never conducted an RHSA funding competition or released any dollars. Currently the HUD website says the program is 'being implemented.' For funding actually to get out the door, Congress will very likely have to give a direct order to HUD in an appropriations bill. That got part of the way to completion this year. Maybe next year?" (Read more)

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