Last week 100 bipartisan Members of Congress wrote to House Leadership urging them to extend rural housing programs. On Oct. 1, more than 900 rural communities will find themselves ineligible for federal rural housing programs due to 2010 census data. The Rural Housing Service is still relying on a definition of rural that was created in 1974.
Programs like the 502 single family loan guarantee program provide lower-income families in rural areas unique access to mortgage credit. These loans are funded by private lenders, and simply insured by the RHS. This program is self-funded and budget neutral, meaning that broadening the population definition will not place additional financial burden on American taxpayers. In 2011, the RHS helped nearly 140,000 rural American families become homeowners.
The letter, sponsored by Res. Fortenberry (R-NE) and Hinojosa (D-TX) urges House leadership to move an extension quickly before the end of the fiscal year.
Following every census beginning in 1980, Congress has extended the current provisions. However, an extension has not yet been granted for this year. Currently, the Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill includes a one-year grandfathering clause.
In addition, the Senate Farm Bill (S. 2340) includes the text of Senators Nelson (D-NE) and Johanns (R-NE) amendment to grandfather communities and increase the existing community population threshold to 35,000. Passing such a measurewill have NO federal budget impact. These programs are self-sufficient (through premiums paid by borrowers) and the grandfathering clause will simply retain eligibility and not expand the program in any way.
NAR has been working to ensure that this program does not lapse for needy communities.