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May 15, 2001

HAC Calls for More Affordable Rural Housing
By Calvert Foundation

Rural Americans suffer the same affordable housing shortage as their big-city neighbors, and their situation is just as solvable, the Housing Assistance Council stated today. HAC has joined forces with a wide range of housing producers and advocacy organizations to highlight the nation's critical housing need.

SocialFunds.com -- Washington, May 2, 2001 – Rural Americans suffer the same affordable housing shortage as their big-city neighbors, and their situation is just as solvable, the Housing Assistance Council stated today. HAC has joined forces with a wide range of housing producers and advocacy organizations to highlight the nation's critical housing need.

"Far too many working families in rural America can't find decent, affordable homes," stated Moises Loza, HAC's executive director. "HAC is united with the National Housing Conference and other NHC members to call attention to this nationwide problem. It is crucial that we recognize not only that this affordable housing shortage exists, but also that it can be solved."

One in every five households living in a nonmetropolitan area pays more than the federal standard of 30 percent of income for their housing costs and is considered "cost-burdened," according to recent research by the Housing Assistance Council. Why Housing Matters: HAC's 2000 Report on the State of the Nation's Rural Housing, published in December, also reports that about 1.8 million (8.2 percent) of nonmetro homes are either moderately or severely inadequate – they do not have indoor plumbing, their roofs leak, their electrical systems are faulty, or they have other physical problems.

A disproportionate number of cost-burdened rural households are renters, who generally have lower incomes than homeowners. Minorities and elderly residents are also disproportionately likely to experience housing problems, according to HAC's research.

"The most vulnerable Americans have the worst housing situations," Loza pointed out. "A significant increase in government resources is needed to help them, as HAC and other National Housing Conference members have pointed out in a letter to the Administration and Congress. The problem is solvable, but solving it will require immediate action and a multi-year commitment.

"U.S. housing policy should prioritize serving those people who are most in need, including poor rural households," Loza continued. Such a policy would include both homeownership assistance and also a rental housing production program, according to a recent policy paper by HAC.

Furthermore, it would ensure that a fair share of funding goes to rural areas. "Historically, rural housing has not always received funding commensurate with rural needs," stated Loza. "To distribute assistance appropriately, monies can be set aside for rural areas, or funds can be allocated among geographic areas based on need."

A national nonprofit corporation headquartered in Washington, D.C., and founded in 1971, the Housing Assistance Council helps local organizations build affordable homes in rural America by providing below-market financing, technical assistance, research, training and information services. HAC's programs focus on local solutions, empowerment of the poor, reduced dependency and self-help strategies.

© Calvert Foundation

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