WI-CARH Spring 2020
Message from Russell Kaney
Rural Housing More Important Than Ever
Greetings from my home office. Like many of you, I have lived in an upside-down world over the past 90 days. The pandemic that has swept not only the United States, but the world has brought numerous challenges, both professionally and personally to every household.
First, we hope you are safe, healthy and that your families are wading through the unusual restrictions we have as a society. Nothing like this has happened in our lifetimes. Residents of your properties are living and working under the same conditions, social distancing, healthy habits, staying home unless involved in essential businesses.
As an organization, WI-CARH made the decision early in March to postpone our spring training event on Fair Housing. This was an easy decision made by the Board of Directors as we were just entering the protocols placed on social and public gatherings. We did not see a substantial improvement before our May event, plus our venue, The Marriott Hotel in Middleton had closed. We have committed to our training for May 2021. At this date, we will anticipate having our fall conference subject to improvements in health protocols.
This has been a trying period. Not only do you have your personal health and safety to oversee, you have employees, vendors and particularly residents that need guidance, information and a sense of knowing that you have things under control.
No one knows the ending of this saga, exactly. Do know this. We have all become more flexible, more knowing of our surroundings and have a greater appreciation for many little things we can enjoy at the end of long days.
In this newsletter, we will provide some tips and articles that hopefully you will find helpful. Keep up the good work across rural Wisconsin. We will see each other soon.
Stay safe and healthy.
Russell D. Kaney
WI-CARH Spring Training!
WI-CARH Spring Training for
May 12, 2020 has been postponed
With the health and safety of training participants in mind, the Wisconsin Council for Affordable and Rural Housing (WI-CARH) has decided to postpone the Fair Housing Seminar that was scheduled for May 12 in Madison, WI. We anticipate rescheduling this training for May 2021.
Thank you for your cooperation and stay well!
We want to thank the following sponsors for their support.
Welcome New WI-CARH Board Member
Rebecca Giroux - Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development (WHEDA)
Rebecca Giroux is the
Business and Community Engagement (BCE) Officer for Northwestern Wisconsin, spanning more than 22 counties.
team focuses on economic development statewide as well as promoting financing products and tools that support WHEDA's multifamily lending activity.
Rebecca joined WHEDA in May 2019 with an extensive 17-year background in retail banking, marketing, and community relations. As a lifelong resident of Wisconsin, she is passionate about WHEDA's mission of
stimulating the state's economy and improving the quality of life for Wisconsin residents by providing affordable housing and business financing products.
Our sincere thanks to our departing Board Members, Chris Hand, ACC Management Group and George Petak, WHEDA. Thank you for serving.
The WI-CARH Board of Directors list can be found
USDA Rural Development has taken a number of immediate actions to help rural residents, businesses and communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Rural Development will keep our customers, partners, and stakeholders continuously updated as more actions are taken to better serve rural America. Click
Opportunities for Relief
for more details.
USDA's COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide lists federal programs that can help rural communities, organizations, and residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic (including technical, training, and management assistance; financial assistance; and state and local assistance.)
The COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide can be found here.
Rural Development is continuing to receive questions on COVID-19 related issues as they affect Multifamily housing properties. In response, the agency issued a second FAQ on April 13, 2020.
Click here to view the additional guidance.
To see answers to Multifamily's previous FAQ, issued on April 5, visit the Rural Development COVID-19 Response website -https://www.rd.usda.gov/coronavirus
Youth Grant and Scholarship Opportunities
Wisconsin Council for Affordable & Rural Housing
(WI-CARH) is accepting applications for the 2020-2021 Youth Grant and Scholarship program.
Please spread the word and help us make a difference in a student's f
uture! Youth grants in the amount not to exceed $500 per student, per y
ear, until all funds are used, will be awarded to enable students in grades 3-12 to participate in an academic enrichment activity. Eligible activities include but not limited to: Little League, Soccer, Volleyball or Basketball Leagues, Tennis, Swimming, 4H Camp, Music or Band Camp, Sports Camp, Cheerleading Camp, Girl Scouts or Boy Scout Camp, and an International Youth Exchange Program.
These activities are on a year-round basis and not limited to the summer.
A $500 scholarship will be awarded to a graduating high school senior or adult wishing to further their education. Eligible applicants can use the scholarship at any two (2) year or higher accredited public or private school in the State of Wisconsin which offers an associate or undergraduate degree or a
New WI-CARH Members!
The WI-CARH lease is approved for use at any Rural Development supervised property. Using this lease for your property will ensure that you are in compliance with Wisconsin law and RD regulations while saving you the expense of hiring a lawyer to do the same thing. Just like last year, it is available in three formats:
- FHA Software Generated Lease - WI-CARH has teamed up with Simply Computer Software to give FHA Software users the access and ability to generate their WI-CARH Residential Lease and Amendments forms within their FHA Software program. Users of this program can generate the lease through the RD 3560-8 Tenant Certification - PRINT options window. All of the applicable project, unit, and tenant information will automatically be inserted.
- Stand-alone WI-CARH Lease Generation Program - A link will be sent to you from Simply Computer Software that will allow you to download and install the WI-CARH Lease Generation Program which includes pre-entered property listing information you provided. To produce a lease, just open the program, select the property, enter pertinent tenant information and print.
- Paper Lease - A package of 10 leases and 10 amendments will be shipped to you which you will use to hand write all pertinent tenant information on
To purchase the lease, complete the lease order form and mail it in with your payment to the WI-CARH Office at: P.O. Box 258098, Madison, WI 53725.
Rural housing losses feared despite rescue spending
Initial relief means bills must be paid later
Broadway Street in Townsend, Mont., on August 20, 2018. Advocates contend Congress needs to do more to help low-income rural renters hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Posted April 13, 2020 at 6:00am, Source: Roll Call
A new federal law protects some of the nation's poorest renters from eviction and provides poor homeowners a grace period on mortgage payments, but the support may not be enough for tenants, homeowners and landlords and could reduce housing supply in rural areas.
The March legislation to rescue the economy from the COVID-19 pandemic addresses, among others, two housing programs run by the Agriculture Department: the Rural Housing Service's Section 515 program that provides low-interest direct loans to build rental and cooperative housing in rural areas and the service's Section 502 program that directly lends to low-to moderate income borrowers and guarantees against default.
Supporters of the two programs say they help people who are vulnerable to the many pandemic-related business shutdowns. They also want lawmakers to address some of the shortcomings as they work on what is expected to be a fourth economic rescue package.
"These are really the poorest people in the federal system with regard to home ownership," said Bob Rapoza, executive secretary for the National Rural Housing Coalition. "These are low-income families, and their prospects might not be very good if this continues."
The Section 515 program provides direct loans to build rental and cooperative housing in rural areas. The loans are repayable over 50 years and apply to 13,500 properties with about 417,000 units nationwide. Landlords agree to USDA-set rental rates for a mostly white, elderly or disabled renter population with an average household income of $14,014. The federal government pays most of the rent although tenants who can meet the full rent are eligible.
The rescue package allows the landlords to defer loan payments and get 90 days of foreclosure protection. It also prohibits evictions for non-payment for 120 days.
But Rapoza said the 120 days may not be enough and noted that tenants still eventually have to make the missed payments. The impact won't be just on the tenants, but also on the projects themselves.
"If those families can't pay rent because they don't have jobs, what happens to those projects?" he asked. "What has been the case in recent years is that there is a shortage of housing in rural communities just generally."
A recent USDA rural housing report noted the loss of 214 multi-family rental properties between 2017 and 2019, a 1.6 percent decline.
Rapoza and Colleen M. Fisher, executive director of the Council for Affordable and Rural Housing, said landlords could find themselves in financial trouble and hard pressed to resume payments on their USDA loans if rent collections fall during the moratorium.
Fisher's organization represents management companies, developers and non-profit and for-profit property owners. She said the housing assistance payments for subsidized tenants will help, but added that her members are nervous.
"I think our best shot at the moment is to try to get something into phase four, and if that doesn't work, try to figure out something else," Fisher said, referring to a possible fourth economic rescue bill.
She said her organization estimates it would take $500 million to cover potential rent shortfalls just for the tenants without housing subsidies and those with housing subsidies who are unable to pay up to 30 percent of their rent. Fisher said the council wasn't able to persuade lawmakers to provide the funding in the bill signed March 27.
"Our thing is to keep the issues in front of members of Congress and their staffs," Fisher said, adding that there might be a silver lining to the extended April recess for the House and Senate.
The Rural Housing Service's Section 502 program provides direct USDA loans to low- to moderate-income mortgage borrowers for up to 38 years and guarantees loans by private lenders against default. Its goal is to foster homeownership in communities with populations up to 35,000.
The economic rescue package allows the borrowers to delay mortgage payments for up to 180 days if they claim hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and request a second 180-day deferral if necessary. The USDA issued a 60-day moratorium against foreclosure on March 19.
The new law's $600 per week boost in unemployment benefits through July may help and some borrowers will be eligible for government checks up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for couples and an added $500 per child.
But people who earn less than $12,200 may be missed in the distribution of the government checks because they aren't required to file tax returns.
Rapoza said a potential 360-day pause on mortgage payments may not be enough time for homeowners to recover. He said 38 percent of the borrowers are very low income and are likely to work in the service jobs hardest hit by the domino effect of public health restrictions on the economy.
"These are really the poorest people in the federal system with regard to home ownership," he said. "These are low-income families and their prospects might not be very good if this continues." What happens, Rapoza asked, after the stimulus payments and the temporary increase in unemployment benefits end.
Rapoza said many USDA borrowers and renters live in areas that never fully recovered from the 2008-09 Great Recession and the coronavirus downturn will leave those communities struggling even more.
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