Shaheen seeks legislation to aid low-income rural tenants

Measure would push restructuring of Section 515 loans, other incentives for property owners
Jeanne Shaheen 2022

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH.

A bill co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen seeks to ensure that low-income tenants in rural areas are able to maintain access to safe and affordable housing.

Along with Sen. Tina Smith of Minnesota, a fellow Democrat, Shaheen is sponsoring The Strategy and Investment in Rural Housing Preservation Act of 2002, which is aimed at protecting access to affordable housing for families that are largely elderly, disabled and live in rural areas.

“Affordable housing is one of the biggest issues impacting New Hampshire families, especially as we work to recover from the pandemic, which exacerbated a pre-existing, serious concern,” said Shaheen.

Specifically, the bill would provide the RHS with tools to restructure existing Section 515 loans and extending incentives for property owners to stay in the program. Section 515 loans provide mortgages to provide rental housing for lower-income residents.

In the event a loan restructuring is not possible, the bill also seeks to protect residents by allowing rental assistance to be decoupled from the underlying loan but remain in place at the property, or by allowing the resident to transfer their rental assistance to another eligible property.

The bill also requires USDA to establish a plan for preserving affordable rental housing in rural areas, in consultation with an advisory committee composed of a variety of interested stakeholders, including tenants.

The bill has already garnered the support of several organizations – including National Housing Law Project, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, the Council for Affordable and Rural Housing and the Housing Assistance Council. A companion measure is being sponsored in the by Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa.

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