Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: February 24, 2014
In a major victory for NAHB and housing, Congress passed a Farm Bill that includes an important provision championed by NAHB that will help members living and working in rural areas across the nation. President Obama signed the bill into law on Feb. 7.
The legislation allows more than 900 communities nationwide to retain their status as “rural” areas where residents have access to important rural housing programs that help low- and very-low income households obtain homeownership or suitable rental housing. This will enable millions of Americans to maintain access to critical rural housing programs.
The law does not provide more U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funding for rural areas. But by “grandfathering” these existing rural communities, they will maintain access to USDA rural housing programs.
NAHB estimates that in 2014 alone, this will generate $1.2 billion more investment in housing in these areas, including construction of new single-family and multifamily homes and remodeling. Breaking this down even further, it means that each of these 900-plus communities will receive on average more than $1 million in economic activity this year in USDA loans and grants for new construction and remodeling — funding that would have been lost had the law not been passed.
One NAHB member summed up the legislation this way: “The Farm Bill alone will keep many small builders in business.”
The USDA redraws its maps defining rural areas following every census, and the maps drawn after the 2010 census would have removed these communities from the program due to their population.
NAHB’s action to insert the rural housing provision into the Farm Bill provides a long-term solution because the legislation keeps the current maps and extends the population definition for these rural areas to 35,000 until after the 2020 census.
NAHB has been working on this issue for three years, ever since it was brought to the association’s attention in early 2011 by members from Kentucky and several other states.
On the regulatory side, NAHB was able to delay the release of revised USDA maps.
In the legislative arena, NAHB worked with several members of Congress to move various pieces of legislation forward, including appropriations, a stand-alone 10-year bill, and ultimately, this Farm Bill fix.
Further, NAHB put the power of its grassroots to work, contacting members of Congress and telling them how important it is for these 900 communities to retain their rural status.
There are also thousands of other rural communities that use and rely on USDA housing programs.
“The Farm Bill is a great victory for NAHB, and a great example of how the federation works together to address important issues,” said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly.