More than 900 communities that were at risk for losing access to federal rural housing programs are now protected through 2020. For the last three years, NAR has worked with Congress extend the eligibility of communities under a 40-year old definition of rural. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) had been required to revise the list of communities eligible for rural housing loans based on the 2010 census data – and apply them to the 1974 definition. But last week the President signed H.R. 2642, the Agricultural Act of 2014 (aka the Farm Bill), that will protect these communities through the release of the 2020 census.
Rural families face unique difficulties in finding access to safe, affordable mortgage financing and rental housing. Programs such as Sections 502, 515, and 538 provide direct and guaranteed loans for both single and multifamily housing. This legislative language did not expand any program or authorize any additional funding. It simply retains the current pool of eligible communities (including those that have populations up to 35,000). NAR will continue to work to revise the outdated definition to conform to current demographic data and need.