Even though the Senate is still in Washington D.C., Congress has adjourned with members going to their respective districts to focus on the midterms. This move led the National Rural Housing Coalition (NRHC) to point out that Congress still has not worked out the issues behind H.R. 6147. H.R. 6147 is multifaceted legislation which includes Department of Agriculture funding. Issues that need to be resolved do not involve USDA Rural Housing appropriations, but it does leave the funding in limbo.
Last week, Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced a senate bill which proposes the single largest investment in rural housing programs. Here we have another instance of Republicans allowing Democrats to take the lead on issues that everyday Americans are facing. This at a time when President Trump has made farmers and agriculture a focal point of his administration.
According to Bob Rapoza, Executive Secretary of the National Rural Housing Coalition, “We are in the middle of a rural housing crisis with only about 10 percent of new homes being built in rural areas, leaving unaffordable, aged and decrepit housing as the only options for rural Americans. Congress needs to make more investments and ensure that USDA rural housing are secure and fully funded.”
Most of the USDA financed rental housing is done through its Section 515 Rural Rental Housing Program, and is usually the only affordable housing in small towns and farming communities. Over a 20 year period, according to the USDA, it costs a total of $5.6 billion to maintain the portfolio of about 450,000 properties. In a Wall Street Journal article from May, titled, “Rural America Has Jobs, Now It Needs Housing”, it was noted that employers with jobs to offer couldn’t fill those jobs because workers had no suitable place to live.
2010 census data created by the Housing Assistance Council states, of approximately 116 million housing units available in America, rural and small towns are responsible for 25 million of those units. Of that 25 million 1.5 million are considered moderately or severely substandard.
President Trump’s strategy is to put more money in the pockets of farmers and not leave them dependent on the government, only to barely get by. Under the Obama era socialist regulations which choke business owners, farmers were lucky to get by without losing their farms. It is time that the Republican side of the House puts the ball in their court, and take care of the farmers that take care of us!