The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services held a hearing on February 14 titled “The Affordable Housing Crisis in Rural America: Assessing the Federal Response.” A webcast of the hearing is available here. While the hearing did not address how the affordable housing shortage specifically affects people with disabilities, it did highlight four bills that seek to alleviate general shortage of housing stock.
The bills, which are summarized on page 5 of this Committee memo, would:
Require USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees some rural programs] to come up with a plan for preserving Section 515 and 514 properties and preventing displacement of tenants – with tenant input and regular reports. [“Strategy for Rural Housing Preservation Act of 2019,” offered by U.S. Representative Lacy Clay, D-MO].
Expand eligibility for RD Vouchers to all residents of Section 515 and 514 properties that are at risk of displacement due to a loan maturation or foreclosure, and authorizes additional funding for the RD Voucher program to account for the expanded eligibility. The bill would also prevent USDA from offering the vouchers when the residents are already protected by a use restriction. [Sponsor not mentioned.[
Decouple Section 515 and 514 loans from RA contracts and ensure that when a loan matures, a new RA contract is offered to the owner. [“Rural Housing Preservation Act of 2019,” offered by U.S. Representative David Kustoff, R-TN.]
Ensure that women with RD Vouchers are protected under the Violence Against Women Act. [Offered by U.S. Representative Vicente Gonzalez, D-TX].
Increase the maximum amount of a loan or grant under Section 514 or 516 to $3 million and make available upon request the self-scoring assessment for a Section 514 or 516 applicant. [Offered by Representative Jimmy Panetta, D-CA].
Fuller context for these bills, most of which are still in the discussion draft stage, is available in the aforementioned memo, which goes over various facets of the rural affordable housing crisis.
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