Giving Compass’ Take:
• Housing agencies need to have better coordinated strategies to provide sustainable affordable housing solutions for individuals living in rural areas.
• How can philanthropists help to fund more services for rural communities so they can obtain affordable housing?
• Read about the impact of tiny houses.
The loss of federally assisted housing is a growing crisis for rural communities, where housing costs may be low, but incomes are even lower. In non metropolitan areas in Illinois, like Cairo, a household needs to earn almost $13 an hour working full-time to afford a two-bedroom rental home, but the state minimum wage is only $8.25 an hour.
High-quality rental housing is often in short supply. Only one in four rural housing units is for rent, while the rest are owner occupied. Among these rentals, cheaper rent often means poorer quality.
In some rural communities, federally assisted housing is the only affordable rental housing available. Together, HUD and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) provide almost 30 percent of rental units affordable to the lowest-income households in non-metropolitan counties.
Around one in five public housing units is in a non-metropolitan, rural community. Many regional public housing authorities, like the Alexander County Public Housing Authority serving Cairo, have properties across multiple rural towns. When they struggle with maintenance and capital improvement needs, the ripple effects are felt across the county.
The Department of Agriculture, on the other hand, has financed a privately owned stock of affordable rental units across rural America that is slowly dwindling, as properties pay off their loans.
Both federal housing agencies are riddled with aging properties and shrinking budgets to maintain, preserve, and replace them.
Federal housing agencies should have a shared rural strategy. Rather than merging HUD and USDA housing programs, policymakers from both agencies should maintain the affordable rental housing they provide to vulnerable rural communities and figure out how to sustain it.
Read the full article about rural affordable housing by Corianne Scally at Urban Institute
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