The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) is a non-profit organization whose main office is in Washington DC but has other representative offices in the southeast, southwest, and Midwest regions. The HAC focuses its efforts mainly in the rural and high-need areas of the country, such as Appalachia, and assists low-income residents by improving housing conditions and developing affordable rural housing. Read on below to see how the Housing Assistance Council can help you and how they serve rural communities with their affordable housing efforts.
HAC works directly with the Federal Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD)and offers assistance to low-income rural residents in three ways:
For over 40 years, the HAC has made available short-term, below market rate, loans available to non-profit and government developers to build affordable housing for low-income rural residents in need. The housing built out of these loans covers both rental and ownership intended projects. HAC states that the loans they provide assist developers with pre-development, acquisition, construction, preservation, and self-help housing; this allows borrowers to purchase land, cover construction costs, and sometimes pay required environmental and architectural fees.
Technical assistance essentially provides developers and organizations with guidance on their housing builds when they are having compliance or organizational issues. These assists builders stay on track and within applicable codes while completing projects on time. The interesting thing about this portion of assistance that HAC offers is it is not limited to non-profit organizations or to only those developers that are building affordable housing; HAC has what they call an “open door policy” on their technical assistance and will attempt to provide guidance to all those who apply.
For builders and organizations seeking assistance in the areas of construction, financing, and non-profit management, HAC hosts training workshops regularly throughout the country. A calendar of their training events can be found on their website.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the HAC provides important analytical information on rural housing markets and housing conditions affecting low-income rural residents. The providing of this information and data helps improve affordable housing conditions by giving information to lawmakers and policymakers so that they can make effective changes and improvements. Research reports, research notes, research briefs, resource guides, and policy notes all comprise the library of useful information that HAC gathers. This information is then all distributed via the HAC News newsletter, Rural Voices magazine, a rural data portal, a veteran’s data central, USDA housing data, and in maps.
Special initiatives are another way HAC serves its commitment to assist low-income residents and families in rural areas. When HAC has a particular issue or problem they are trying to address, they will institute an initiative to address the specific subject. Some current initiatives the HAC is conducting are:
- The OneRural Consortium – This initiative provides technical assistance to help improve rural communities through HUD’s OneCPD Integrated Practitioner Assistance Program. Though HAC leads this initiative, it works with the Council of State Community and Economic Development Agencies (COSCDA), the New York State Rural Housing Coalition (NYSRHS), the Nebraska Housing Developers Association (NHDA), among others.
- Self-Help Housing – This initiative is done with “sweat equity” where participants pitch in a significant amount of labour to build theirs and their neighbours’ homes, thus reducing the cost.
- Rural Homelessness – The HAC developed this initiative to respond directly to the issue of homelessness in rural areas. Research into the problem is a big part of this initiative to best understand the issues that need to be addressed.
- Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans – This is a relatively newer initiative started in 2018 and funded by Home Depot that has awarded grants to 11 non-profits throughout the country a total of $306,500 so far in order to help build and repair affordable housing for veterans.