The following post was prepared by Mary Childs- Mayer, NDC Director of Government Relations
Perhaps the federal department that took the biggest hit by the Administration, the House and the Senate in the proposed FY14 budgets was the USDA. Thanks to the National Rural Housing Coalition staffed by Rapoza Associates, the members went to task to speak with members of congress to increase much needed funding for rural housing. Below is a summary prepared by the NRHC and sent to its members.
- The FY14 conference agreement increases Rural Housing spending by $140 million above the President’s Budget Request.
- That number includes increases in Section 502 Direct Loans, Section 523 Mutual Self-Help Housing, Section 514/516 Farm Labor Housing, Section 515 Rural Rental Housing, Section 521 Rural Rental Assistance, and Rural Community Development Initiative.
- Spending for Rural Water/Wastewater is also above the President’s Budget Request by $45 million.
- As the table below indicates, the total available for Section 521 Rural Rental Assistance is $1.11 billion, which is $97 million above the President’s Budget Request and is higher than amount recommended in the House or Senate bill. This amount fully funds all expiring agreements in FY14.
- The other achievement accomplished by the NRHC was effectively safeguarding the rural definition for fiscal year 2014 and prevents USDA from using any funds to implement changes to the definition. As a result, all communities that are currently eligible for Rural Housing programs will remain eligible through the end of the fiscal year.
- The bill also includes an important provision impacting the Section 502 Direct Loan Intermediary Pilot program. Section 735 of the Omnibus bill requires that USDA expand the pilot program to include 5 additional Intermediaries within 90 days (around mid-April). The purpose of adding these intermediaries is to extend the pilot program to areas not currently served by existing intermediaries. The Appropriations bill also includes a $5 million set-aside of Section 502 Direct Loans for borrowers building their own homes under the Self-Help Housing program. This provision was also included in the FY13 budget, and was carried forward.