WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03), a member of the House Financial Services Committee, praised the unanimous House passage of legislation to protect and expand access to affordable rental housing options in rural communities.
The Strategy and Investment in Rural Housing Preservation Act, co-sponsored by Axne, will restructure an existing U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rural housing program in order to prevent the displacement of thousands of Americans in rural communities.
“We often hear about skyrocketing rents in metropolitan cities, but this housing crisis is impacting our rural communities just as hard. Housing options are simply unaffordable for many Iowans in rural communities” said Axne. “Many Iowans in our rural communities rely on this USDA program in order to put a roof over their head. By preserving this program, this legislation will protect Iowans from displacement and expand access to affordable housing options in rural communities.”
USDA provides affordable rental housing options by making direct loans to developers to finance housing projects for low-income, elderly and disabled individuals in rural communities. As part of this program, USDA also provides rental assistance (RA) to tenants which caps their contribution at 30% of their income. However, as property owners pay off those loans in full, they are no longer required to offer affordable rental rates. Additionally, after the loan matures, tenants living in those properties are no longer eligible for USDA’s rental assistance.
In order to address these issues, the USDA created the Multifamily Housing Preservation and Revitalization (MPR) pilot program to restructure loans to extend the affordable use of these properties without displacing tenants and expand eligibility for rental assistance. The Strategy and Investment in Rural Housing Preservation Act will permanently authorize and provide $1 billion in funding for the MPR program, require USDA to come up with a plan to ensure the long-term preservation of rural housing options provided by USDA loans and establish an advisory committee to help USDA implement that plan.