The Agricultural Act of 2014 (HR 2642), approved by the Senate and the House last week, includes an important provision championed by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) that will enable millions of Americans to maintain access to critical rural housing programs.
"NAHB commends House and Senate leaders for working in a bipartisan manner to pass legislation that allows more than 900 communities nationwide to retain their status as 'rural' areas where residents have access to important USDA rural housing programs that help low- and very-low income households obtain homeownership or suitable rental housing," said NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C.
NAHB estimates that this important provision in the Farm Bill regarding the definition of a rural community will generate $1.2 billion more investment in housing in these areas, including new single-family and multifamily construction and remodeling. The USDA redraws its maps defining rural areas following every census, and the maps drawn after the 2010 census would have removed these communities from the program due to their population.
“Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) thanks the Senate for passing a five-year farm bill to provide stability to rural communities and the community banks that serve them,” said Bill Loving, ICBA chairman and president and CEO of Pendleton Community Bank in Franklin, W.Va. “Passing this legislation has been an extraordinary effort by Congress to provide a long-term framework for our nation’s agricultural and rural policies. ICBA and community bankers in rural communities across the nation look forward to seeing this measure signed into law.”
HR 2642 provides a long-term solution because the legislation keeps the current maps and extends the population definition of a rural area to 35,000 until after the 2020 census.