The National Rural Housing Coalition (NRHC) has brought to attention the lack of affordable rental options in rural areas of the country, particularly for those with low incomes. The coalition says the problem is getting worse, and is asking for other organizations and investors to step in to help address the problem.
“While there are notable investments made several decades ago for the production and maintenance of affordable, rural rental housing, that federal commitment has not kept pace with the need in recent years,” said Bob Rapoza, executive secretary of NRHC, in a statement. “This is significant because [the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s] current preservation efforts do not appear to be enough to sustain its rental housing portfolio, which is essential to providing clean, decent, and affordable housing for low-income residents in rural America.”
For those looking to rent affordable homes in rural locations, the USDA is one of the only options available. Its tenants have an average income of just $12,729 per year, but the department’s housing options are extremely stretched, with vacant homes few and far between.
The USDA estimates that $5.596 billion in extra funding is needed over the next two decades in order to preserve its current rental housing stock.
Rural housing groups warned about a high number of USDA mortgages that are approaching the end of their terms. The property can lose its rental assistance eligibility, a subsidy to low-income households, if the mortgage ends.
As such, the NRHC is urging other organizations and investors to step up to help preserve affordable rental housing in rural communities. It hopes organizations will take advantage of opportunities to acquire, improve the quality of, and maintain the affordability of properties in rural areas.