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Reprieve for Rural Communities

September 28, 2012

More than 900 communities nationwide will not lose access to rural housing programs this fall, as expected. 

On Sept. 25, the Office of Rural Development of the Department of Agriculture published an Administrative Notice delaying implementation of 2010 Census data for use in their programs through March 27, 2013. The programs of the Rural Housing Service (RHS) provide access to safe, affordable mortgage financing for lower-income rural families.

Without Congressional intervention, RHS was on the brink of reverting to a definition of “rural” that has not been updated since 1974.  This outdated definition would have rendered more than 900 communities in 48 states ineligible for access to these valuable programs.

NAR has been working with Congress on grandfathering these communities. In the Senate, the Farm Bill includes an amendment by Senators Nelson (D-NE) and Johanns (R-NE), passed by voice vote without objection, that would have grandfathered existing communities for 10 years and moved the threshold for existing eligible communities to 35,000. In the House Rep. Fortenberry (R-NE) has a similar bill, and also lead the charge, with Rep. Hinojosa (D-TX), in circulating a letter that 100 Members of the House signed to House Leadership, urging them to include this provision in any legislation.

NAR will continue to work with Congress upon their return to advocate a 10-year grandfathering provision.  While this notice from Rural Development extends eligibility through March 27, 2013, we would like long-term certainty for communities and rural families looking to purchase a home.

Rural Development Notice

NAR coalition letter to Senate

NAR coalition to House

Congressional Letter on Rural Housing