New Toolkit Looks to Help Create Rural Affordable Housing Opportunities


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Lack of affordable housing has strong implications for many Latinos and greatly impacts their quality of life. Many Latinos live in racially segregated, low-income, high-poverty areas with limited access to fresh, healthy foods, quality healthcare, and physical activity spaces.

Also, many areas restrict Latinos access to opportunities impacting their choice of school or their children and limits their chance to obtain higher paying jobs.

For those living in rural areas, the access to affordable housing is often even more limited. According to the non-profit group, Smart Growth America, the cost of living in rural areas is generally lower than in metro areas, yet many residents of rural cities and towns nevertheless struggle to afford the homes and apartments available in those markets.

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According to their research, more than seven million rural households spend over 30% of their monthly income on housing. The cost associated with maintaining housing can “restrict wealth-building and economic mobility” of many individuals and families in rural communities.

Despite this growing need, affordable housing “stock” is in short supply in rural communities; roughly 80% of affordable housing mortgages that were funded through the Section 515 Rural Rental Housing Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are set to mature between 2017 and 2025. This means that thousands of affordable housing units could be “re-priced” to meet current market rates.

Further exacerbating the problem in rural areas is the fact that many affordable housing sites are often physically located far away from jobs, hospitals, grocery stores, schools, physical activity spaces, and transportation hubs. This often makes the housing costs even higher.

To address these concerns, Smart Growth America has created a toolkit designed to be implemented at the local government level to provide affordable housing in rural areas to better meet the needs of their residents. The toolkit walks through how to provide these services with little to no upfront costs, how to change zoning restrictions, protect existing USDA Section 515 housing, and to access federal assistance.

You can access Smart Growth America’s toolkit here.

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