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Improving Access to Rural Affordable Housing


Sponsored By: Rep. Ryan Guillén (TX) and Rep. Dan Pabón (CO)

WHEREAS, over 7 million rural households, 3 in 10, are cost-burdened which means that they pay more than 30% of monthly incomes towards housing costs; and 12%, or 2.9 million, of these cost-burdened households pay more than half of their incomes towards housing costs; and,

WHEREAS, rural renters are particularly impacted as 47% are cost-burdened, with nearly half of those cost-burdened renters paying more than 50% of their monthly income toward housing costs; and,

WHEREAS, recent data shows that Hispanic home ownership in rural communities is at 55%, which is 20% less than white non-Hispanic households, making Hispanics disproportionately affected by high rental costs and substandard living conditions, because more than half of all rural households which suffer from multiple housing damages or problems are renters; and,

WHEREAS, 52% of the residents of the rural Border Colonias region, the area of the United States that borders Mexico, are Hispanic, with poverty in the rural border region being almost twice the national rate; and,

WHEREAS, 47% of Hispanic children born in rural areas are poor compared to 41% those born in urban areas. The parents of these Hispanic children tend to work in low-wage fields like agricultural jobs, dairies, meat-processing plants, and plant nurseries. These low-wage jobs usually do not provide housing and the wages are too low to afford adequate housing; and,

WHEREAS, affordable housing units provide housing for low-income, vulnerable populations in the United States who would otherwise not have housing at all. The average annual income of residents in USDA Section 515 rural rental housing properties is just $11,337. Of those residents, around 60% are elderly or disabled individuals; and,

WHEREAS, all states have a shortage of affordable housing units available for renters considered by the U.S. Census Bureau to be extremely low-income and only 4 million affordable rental homes are available for the 11.4 million extremely low-income families, as the other 3.5 million existing affordable rental homes are occupied by families of higher income; and,

WHEREAS, the U.S. Department of Labor states that 80% of farmworkers identify as Hispanic, with the overwhelming majority being of Mexican descent. Farmworkers have some of the lowest incomes in the country, with 25% having below-poverty incomes which is nearly double the national rate; and,

WHEREAS, the USDA Section 514/516 Farm Labor Housing Program helps to provide funding to construct and maintain housing for farm workers, but it does not go nearly far enough in its implementation or funding as the construction rate of new units has steadily decreased over time and only around 1% of farmworkers receive aid from USDA Section 514/515; and,

WHEREAS, over 30% of Hispanics and farmworkers in rural and small-town areas are affected by household crowding, an issue that can worsen even substandard living conditions and cause health problems. This rate is nearly six times higher than the national average; , and,

WHEREAS, a 2009 report by the American Housing Survey showed that around 1.5 million homes located in rural areas were considered either moderately or severely substandard, and an estimated 17% of farmworker housing units were reported to be substandard; and,

WHEREAS, 18 million affordable units in the United States that are eligible for affordable housing funding, 75% of the total, receive no federal funding; and,

WHEREAS, 19% of all Americans live in rural areas, while 14% of all homeless people live in rural America and are likely underrepresented due to the difficulty in counting homeless people in rural versus urban areas, in 2015, an estimated 78,085 people in rural areas experienced homelessness on any given night; and,

WHEREAS, “Housing First” programs, that provide housing to homeless people without preconditions or requirements related to behavior or treatment have been shown to be more effective in reducing homelessness than “housing ready” programs that create barriers to entering a home such as drug tests. The stability of a roof allows the beneficiaries of Housing First programs to then address the challenges that caused, or kept them in, homelessness.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators encourages Federal, State, and Local government to expand and further implement programs dedicated to creating and maintaining affordable housing for low-income households, creating and maintaining affordable housing for farm workers, and assisting in ending rural homelessness; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators encourages state governments to implement programs to better identify rural households with substandard living conditions, household crowding, homelessness or multiple problems to gain a better understanding of how adverse housing conditions affect rural communities and their prevalence; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators calls upon the federal government to increase funding to federal programs that assist in the development of rural affordable housing for extremely low-income workers and adopt legislation that would attract private developers to invest in affordable housing projects; and,

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators calls upon the United States Department of Agriculture to expand the construction and restoration of housing under the USDA Section 514/516 Farm Labor Housing to meet the needs of the ever-expanding low-income farm worker labor force that has become integral to the U.S. agricultural economy; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators encourages state and local governments to implement Housing First programs to ensure that homeless individuals have access to housing without barriers or restrictions relating to behavior or treatment.


1. http://www.ruralhome.org/storage/documents/ts2010/ts-report/ts10_rural_housing.pdf
2. http://www.ruralhome.org/storage/documents/ts2010/ts-report/ts10_rural_housing.pdf
3. http://www.ruralhome.org/storage/documents/ts2010/ts-report/ts10_rural_housing.pdf
4. http://www.ruralhome.org/storage/documents/rpts_pubs/ts10_border_colonias.pdf
5. http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2015/08/14/hispanic-poverty-in-rural-areas-challenges-states
6. http://www.ruralhome.org/storage/documents/ts2010/ts-report/ts10_rural_housing.pdf
7. http://www.ruralhome.org/storage/documents/ts2010/ts-report/ts10_rural_housing.pdf
8. https://www.doleta.gov/agworker/pdf/NAWS_Research_Report_12_Final_508_Compliant.pdf
9. http://www.ruralhome.org/storage/documents/rpts_pubs/ts10-farmworkers.pdf
10. http://www.ruralhome.org/storage/documents/rpts_pubs/ts10-farmworkers.pdf
11. http://www.ruralhome.org/storage/documents/ts2010/ts-report/ts10_rural_housing.pdf
12. http://www.ruralhome.org/storage/documents/rpts_pubs/ts10-farmworkers.pdf
13. http://www.ruralhome.org/storage/documents/ts2010/ts-report/ts10_rural_housing.pdf
14. http://www.ruralhome.org/storage/documents/ts2010/ts-report/ts10_rural_housing.pdf
15. http://www.ruralhome.org/storage/documents/rural-voices/rvmarch2016.pdf (The number of rural homeless is most often estimated using the “Point in Time” survey published by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the Annual Homeless Assessment Report

(AHAR), in this case 2015 Part 1. This is done using the Point in Time’s Balance of State Continuum of Care as proxies for rural homelessness. However, the Housing Assistance Council explains that those proxies are not an optimum, or even accurate measure of homeless persons for various methodological reasons, and calls for a better way to count the rural homeless. NHCSL joins that call.)