News & Resources
News & Updates
- NAR Supports Broadband Interagency Coordination Act: On May 6 NAR sent a letter to the Senate Commerce Committee expressing its support for S. 1294, the Broadband Interagency Coordination Act. This legislation would direct the Federal Communications Commission, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to enter into a memorandum of understanding to coordinate the distribution of federal funds for broadband deployment. Such an agreement would reduce overbuilding and ensure funds are targeted to unserved and underserved areas. https://www.nar.realtor/washington-report/nar-supports-broadband-interagency-coordination-act
- On April 30 the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing titled “Housing in America: Assessing the Infrastructure Needs of America’s Housing Stock.” A draft bill from committee chair Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), the Housing is Infrastructure Act, would authorize $1 billion for USDA’s Multifamily Preservation and Revitalization Demonstration program and $100 million for Section 504 home repair loans and grants, as well as $1 billion for Native American housing block grants and significant sums for the Public Housing Capital Fund, the National Housing Trust Fund and CDBG. Even if the bill were to become law, the funds would have to be appropriated separately.
- New Broadband Bills — Senate Commerce Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) earned quick praise from telecom industry trade groups for his new Broadband Interagency Coordination Act, filed Thursday with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). The measure would compel an agreement among the FCC, NTIA and USDA to coordinate on federal broadband subsidies. A bipartisan group of senators including Klobuchar also reintroduced the Measuring the Economic Impact of Broadband Act, which would mandate a federal study on — what else — the impact of broadband on the U.S. economy.
- Opportunity Zones: Rural America Might Miss Out on Opportunity Zones – Rural areas account for 40 percent of the designated opportunity zones, which offer private companies and investors tax breaks in exchange for investing in certain low-income communities. But some warn that even with the tax incentives, many rural areas still likely won’t benefit unless state and local governments intervene to make the investment less risky.
- USDA Opens Application for Rural Broadband Infrastructure Program – These funds will enable the federal government to partner with the private sector and rural communities to build modern broadband infrastructure in areas with insufficient internet service.
- Rural needs noted at Community Reinvestment Act hearing – On April 9, the House Financial Services’ Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions held a hearing entitled “The Community Reinvestment Act: Assessing the Law’s Impact on Discrimination and Redlining.” The hearing focused on how CRA could better reach underserved communities, and rural members like Reps. Scott Tipton (R-CO) and David Kustoff (R-TN) brought up the importance of making sure CRA works well for rural America. Some of the experts testifying at the hearing also specifically highlighted rural CRA needs.
- Appropriators express support for rural housing – USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue appeared before the House agriculture appropriations subcommittee on April 9 and the Senate subcommittee on April 11 to defend the Administration’s budget request. Responding to a question from Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Perdue said he could not disagree on the importance of the rural housing programs, but suggested the Administration may have proposed no funding for most of them because it thought they could be moved to HUD – something not mentioned in the budget documents.
- Why Did Arkansas Change Its Mind on Municipal Broadband? Eight years after banning cities and towns from building high-speed internet networks, state lawmakers unanimously reversed course. Will more red states follow?
- Are State Legislatures Wising Up about Broadband Co-ops? Co-ops offer several advantages for rural communities attempting to improve broadband connectivity. But large telcos don’t like them. North Carolina has loosened its restrictions on co-ops. Will other states follow?
- “The Affordable Housing Crisis in Rural America: Assessing the Federal Response,” was discussed at a hearing convened by the House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance. Covered topics included the need to address rental properties’ maturing mortgages, the need for local capacity building and the need for new construction of rental housing in rural areas, as well as the possibility of moving the USDA rural housing programs to HUD – an idea not supported by any of the panelists.
- “Rural America Faces a Housing Cost Crunch” finds nearly 25 percent of the most rural counties in the country have seen spikes in the shares of their residents paying more than half their income for housing over the past decade. One reason for the slow-moving crisis in rural rental housing is that federal incentives to include affordable units have all but disappeared, and those remaining are quietly expiring.
- Lawmakers Revive Broadband Bill – The ACCESS BROADBAND Act, which aims to expand broadband access in underserved areas, is now back in both chambers, lawmakers announced in a news release Wednesday. Reps. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) and Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) tout bipartisan support for the reintroduction of the measure, H.R. 1328 (116) , which would also create an Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth. Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), meanwhile, are backing a Senate version. The bill passed the House but not the Senate in the previous Congress.
- NAR Letter Supports Rural Housing Service – The letter expresses NAR’s strong support of the Rural Housing Service, and urges Congress to help make its program as robust and efficient as possible. Nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population lives in rural areas or small towns. The programs of the Rural Housing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture provide critical options for housing in rural communities. Through the Section 515, 521 and 538 rental housing programs, USDA tries to 1 bridge the gap, however rental housing is in short supply in rural America. This makes the 502 home loan programs even more valuable to rural families.
- Do Not Pass Go: a documentary that features the city of Wilson, North Carolina and neighboring Pinetops. After Wilson’s repeated requests for improved broadband were denied by the big cable company, they built their own fiber-optic network. This film explores one avenue for communities to improve their Internet access – building and operating a citywide network offering Internet access directly to all residents and businesses.
- The House Committee on Agriculture held a hearing on February 27 on the “State of the Rural Economy”. NAR sent a letter thanking the Chairman and Ranking member for holding the hearing. Nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population lives in rural areas or small towns and nearly all of the counties with the highest poverty rates in America are rural. The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) recognizes the uniqueness of rural communities and the key role that housing plays in building strong communities. Specialized programs, like those of the Rural Housing Service, are critical to meeting the needs of Americans living in rural areas.
- Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell gave a speech on 2/12 on “Economic Development in High Poverty Rural Communities” at the Hope Enterprise Corporation Rural Policy Forum in Itta Bena, MS.
- National Association of Counties (NACo), Rural LISC and Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) have partnered to address the critical need for high-speed internet for rural communities across the country. They developed a mobile app that harnesses grassroots advocacy by empowering individual users to accurately identify areas with low or no internet connectivity. Help identify areas with low or no connectivity to help ensure adequate funding for broadband infrastructure. Read the press release and NACo’s flyer: “Bridging the Economic Divide.”Housing
- Affordability Crisis Spreads to Rural America: Nearly one-fourth of the nation’s most rural counties have seen a sizeable increase this decade in the number of households spending at least half their income on housing, a category the federal government calls “severely cost-burdened.”
- How Fast Is Rural Internet? Consumers Are Asked to Fill in the Gaps: A collaboration of three national rural nonprofits hopes to create a more accurate picture for researchers and advocates to use to see how their communities measure up.
- Vermont Remote Worker Grant Program: created by the Vermont Legislature to encourage professionals interested in moving to Vermont to make the leap. Vermont announced plans to pay up to $10,000 to people who move to the state on or after January 1, 2019, and work remotely.
- Rural Development Innovation Group – made up of rural development practitioners, intermediaries and others who have been deeply involved in advancing rural community and economic development through “wealth-building” approaches that add value to local assets, create jobs and build regional and local capacity to adapt to changing conditions.
- Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition – to strengthen and empower the voices of rural leaders on issues such as collaborative all-lands stewardship, renewable energy, climate change, and local workforce development. Serves as a vital peer learning and capacity building network that accelerates the practice of land stewardship and aligned economic development.
- Housing Assistance Council (HAC) – assists local organizations build affordable homes in rural America such as the development of both single- and multi-family homes and promotes homeownership for working low-income rural families through a self-help, “sweat equity” construction method by emphasizing local solutions, empowerment of people in poverty, reduced dependence, and self-help strategies.
- Rethinking Rural – a national network of millennials dedicated to creating resiliently vibrant communities. Rural is integral to the economic, social, and environmental health of our planet, and millennials are positioned to usher in positive change while celebrating rural life. http://www.rethinkingrural.org
- Rural Broadband Policy Group – a national coalition of grassroots, regional, and national organizations that work together to create better broadband access for rural America and other marginalized communities.
- REALTORS® Land Institute: The Voice of Land, continually strives to maintain its status as the acknowledged leader for all matters pertaining to the land real estate profession
- Community Builders: Provides resources and technical assistance to help local leaders build livable communities across the American West.
- Rural LISC: created to expand LISC’s reach beyond urban areas to include rural communities by helping them identify challenges and opportunities and delivering the most appropriate support to meet local needs.
- Center for Rural Strategies: helps to establish a rural America that is more connected and more inclusive through work on strategic communications, coalition building, public information campaigns, and public policy.
- National Rural Assembly, works at local, regional, and national levels to build more opportunity and better policy for rural communities across the country.
- Daily Yonder: news, commentary, reports from our rural correspondents. Special reports on the big issues facing small communities — health, employment, broadband access, education, and economic development. Tracks how national policies are reaching (or ignoring) rural communities.
- LOR Foundation: supports the prosperity and preserve the character of rural communities throughout the Mountain West.
- Community Networks: provides information on how communities are investing in their own Internet infrastructure to promote economic prosperity and improve quality of life.
- Department of Agriculture (USDA): USDA programs and activities impact the real estate industry in two main areas. The Rural Housing Service (RHS) provides affordable housing opportunities to low- and moderate-income rural homebuyers. In addition, the Forest Service provides policies on wildfire management, land acquisition, recreational opportunities, and land management policies.
- USDA Rural Development: USDA Rural Development is committed to helping improve the economy and quality of life in rural America. Through their programs, they help rural Americans in many ways.
- USDA ReConnect Program, a pilot program authorized by the Consolidated Budget Act of 2018 to facilitate broadband deployment in rural areas that lack sufficient access to broadband.
- Environmental Protection Agency: Smart Growth in Small Towns and Rural Communities – Smart growth strategies can help rural communities achieve their goals for growth and development while maintaining their distinctive rural character.
Reports & Publications
- A Case for Rural Broadband: Insights on Rural Broadband Infrastructure and Next Generation Precision Agriculture Technologies, issued by USDA, quantifies the economic benefit of broadband and agriculture technologies.
- Small-Town Secrets: Five Ideas for Rural Design – What does it take for small, rural communities to go from ideas to action? See some examples of dynamic, cooperative strategies to address diverse rural design challenges.
- American Broadband Initiative Milestones Report February 2019: outlines a vision for how the Federal Government can increase broadband access and actions that Agencies are taking to increase private-sector investment in broadband. Previous attempts to expand broadband connectivity have made progress and provided valuable lessons that guide this Initiative.
- When a disaster strikes a rural area, one of the most serious problems may be a lack of information about resources and assistance available for recovery efforts. Housing Assistance Council’s guide, “Picking Up the Pieces: Restoring Rural Housing and Communities After a Disaster,” is intended to help survivors and local organizations identify resources to rebuild their homes and communities.
- Broadband For 2020: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) unveiled a major infrastructure proposal that seeks to “connect every household to the internet by 2022.” According to a blog post, the “plan will help close the urban-rural divide by creating accurate broadband maps to identify areas that lack adequate access … and provide greater incentives for existing providers to use funds to upgrade their networks to cover unserved and underserved areas.” The proposal is one of the most ambitious tech policy entries offered up by a Democratic candidate in the race for the White House. Klobuchar’s new plan has the makings of another major marker on tech for the 2020 race.
- New Report Finds Troubling Outlook For Rural Hospitals: An estimated 430 rural hospitals – roughly 1 in 5 – are in danger of closing unless their financial outlooks improve, a situation that has broad ramifications not just for access to health care but those communities’ economic livelihoods, Pro’s Rachana Pradhan reports.
- How Outdoor Recreation Supports Rural Economic Development: Investing in outdoor recreation is one of several strategies that can help rural communities thrive in a changing economy.
- Rural Prosperity Through the Arts and Creative Sector: A Rural Action Guide for Governors and States: provides economic data, almost 100 stories/case studies, and a policy framework of strategies for incorporating arts and culture into community development plans.
- USDA High-Speed Broadband e-Connectivity Resource Guide: a toolkit to help support the deployment of high-speed broadband e-Connectivity in rural communities. The e-Connectivity Toolkit features 27 USDA programs that support broadband deployment.