Shaheen bills seek to beef up rural affordable housing programs

Legislation would expand voucher program, encourage resident-owned mobile home parks, reform FHA mortgage policy
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, has introduced legislation to expand the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development rental assistance programs and further expand and align other rural affordable housing programs.

The Rural Housing Preservation Act of 2019, co-sponsored with U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., would expand the Rural Development voucher program to include tenants in properties with matured loans, permanently authorize the Multifamily Housing Revitalization demonstration program and direct Rural Development to better align its policies with the low-income housing tax credit.

“Having a roof over their heads shouldn’t be out of reach for New Hampshire’s working families, but unfortunately, that’s a reality that too many Granite Staters experience every day,” Shaheen said, adding that the legislation “would make meaningful reform to federal programs that help families in rural communities access rental assistance, empower manufactured housing residents to stay in their homes and cap FHA mortgage insurance payments to help incentivize more Americans to become homeowners.”

The senator also said the measure would protect access to affordable housing for families that are largely elderly, disabled and live in rural areas who are at risk of losing rental assistance through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Housing Service. The bill would maintain rental assistance by providing rural housing vouchers to residents in properties with prepaid or maturing mortgages.

Another bill sponsored by Shaheen would permanently authorize the Multi-Family Preservation and Revitalization Restructuring Program and create a new tool for communities to maintain affordable housing by allowing the USDA to continue rental assistance to residents even if there is no longer a USDA loan on the property.

Another measure, the Manufactured Housing Community Sustainability Act, would encourage manufactured home park owners who are interested in selling their property to sell the land to their residents rather than another landlord or a developer. Specifically, thee bill would create a 75% federal tax credit when the property is sold to a resident-owned cooperative.

The final piece of Shaheen’s housing package is the FHA Loan Affordability Act, which would terminate FHA mortgage insurance payments once the loan balance reaches 78% of the home’s purchased value, effectively repealing FHA’s policy that requires the owner to pay mortgage insurance for the life of the loan, causing many borrowers to incur significant and unnecessary costs, said Shaheen.

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