NHLP Testifies at Hearing on Rural Housing Legislation
The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Conducted a Hearing on Rural Housing Legislation
NHLP’s Managing Attorney Natalie Maxwell testified in front of the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Development to discuss “Rural Housing Legislation.” Natalie addressed the importance of rental housing provided by USDA’s Rural Housing Service.
“The rental housing provided by USDA’s Rural Housing Service has historically been a critical source of safe, decent, affordable housing in rural America. However, it now faces its own unique challenges as the number of Section 515 properties that are at risk of exiting the RHS portfolio due to prepayments and mortgage maturities threatens to upend the lives of the more than 560,361 renters who call Section 515 apartments home.”
Congressional action is once again necessary to prevent rural communities from losing this important rental housing stock. Rental Assistance has been critical to keeping rural housing affordable for low-income residents. However, once the Section 515 mortgage loan matures, the Rental Assistance ends. To ensure that Section 515 households can afford to remain in their homes after the mortgage has matured, USDA needs authority from Congress to decouple the Section 521 Rental Assistance from the maturing Section 515 mortgage. Because renewal of the rental assistance contracts after the mortgage expires is voluntary and may not be possible for all properties, USDA also needs authority from Congress to extend eligibility for the current RD Voucher program to residents of properties with maturing mortgages. Congress plays a crucial role in preserving rural rental housing and can ensure preservation issues are addressed by passing The Rural Housing Service Reform Act of 2023. You can read Natalie Maxwell’s full testimony here and watch the hearing here.