February 28, 2013

On February 25, NCSHA joined the National Housing Trust (NHT), the Council for Affordable and Rural Housing (CARH), and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in hosting a congressional briefing on affordable rural multifamily housing.  The briefing helped congressional staff understand how state and federal resources can be used to develop and preserve affordable rental housing in rural communities.

Minnesota Housing Commissioner Mary Tingerthal discussed the critical need for affordable rental housing in rural areas, explaining that many units are being lost as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rental Assistance (RA) expires and as aging buildings become obsolete.  She described how Minnesota Housing has designated preservation as its top priority and has allocated Low Income Housing Tax Credits (Housing Credits) to help preserve properties originally subsidized by USDA Rural Development (RD).  Tingerthal emphasized how much more cost-effective it is to preserve housing than to develop new properties.  She explained that in many rural communities, RD housing has been the only option for low-income residents, many of whom are elderly or disabled.  Tingerthal expressed frustration with budget cuts which have decimated RD staff and with cumbersome RD regulations, which create inefficient processes and obstacles for state HFAs trying to finance preservation deals.  She called for greater harmonization of federal rental housing policies, to save federal funds and improve efficiency.

Other panelists included Kevin Flynn of Flynn Management Corporation, representing CARH, Larry Anderson of Rural Housing Preservation Associates, representing NAHB, and Orlando Artze of Community Housing Partners.  They outlined the various RD assistance programs, described the possible paths to rural housing preservation, and explained how a typical rural multifamily housing preservation deal is structured.  All panelists emphasized the important role that state HFAs play in allocating essential resources to help preserve rural affordable housing.

For more information, please contact Ellen Lurie Hoffman.