2018 Legislative Agenda

STANDING UP FOR RURAL NEW YORK!

In order to continue to effectively meet the affordable housing needs of the low income residents of New York’s small towns and rural communities, NYS Rural Advocates calls for the continued support of the Rural Preservation Program (RPC);  for the revitalization of our small town Main Streets; for the creation of appropriately scaled affordable rental housing; for efforts to preserve and enhance the quality of our single family housing stock; to address the pressing problems of older manufactured housing and to provide access to affordable home ownership opportunities for all rural New Yorkers.

Rural Preservation Program: The Rural Preservation Program strives to ensure that rural communities and small towns have access to the full range of appropriate affordable housing and community development services. The RPP is now approaching 40 years of service and in 2015/16 RPCs raised over $115 million in other funds to repair or improve over 5,700 homes, to construct over 700 new, single family homes, to manage nearly 3,500 units of rental housing, and to write and/or administer some 300 grants on behalf municipalities[1]

When the program was created it included provision for what was then considered a statewide “super RPC” to provide training and technical assistance to RPCs. That super RPC is now the NYS Rural Housing Coalition which has only grown in its importance as a resource for rural communities.

The executive proposes to fund the Rural Preservation Program (RPP) with $3.539 million from the Mortgage Insurance Fund resulting in program funding of $59,983 for each of 59 existing RPCs.  The executive does not include funding for support services from the New York State Rural Housing Coalition in the proposed budget. The Executive’s proposal represents a 1/3 reduction in funding from the $5,559,474 available to RPP in 2016/2017. NYS Rural Advocates recommends an additional $3 million from the general fund to bring Rural Preservation Company funding to $100K per organization and provide for 3 new RPCs to cover unserved rural areas of the State.  These additional funds would also allow an allocation of $250,000 for the NYS Rural Housing Coalition.

Affordable Housing Corporation:  Homeownership is the dominate form of tenure in Rural New York. With well over a half a million housing units occupied by owners, the homeownership rate in rural service areas exceeds 70%.[2] AHC provides funding that supports homeowners including down payment and closing cost assistance, new construction and rehabilitation of owner occupied one to four family homes and mobile home replacement programs.

The executive budget proposes $26 million in funding for AHC in 2017/18. Given the importance of the Affordable Housing Corporation Programs to rural communities, Rural Advocates recommends an additional $10 million to bring the program total to $36 million.

Pre and Post Purchase Homeownership Counseling:  Recognizing the importance of homeownership in rural areas and the lessons learned from the ongoing foreclosure crisis, NYS Rural Advocates recommends the funding of pre and post purchase housing counseling programs.

Rural Rental Assistance: Rural Advocates support the Governor’s proposal to provide the Rural Rental Assistance Program (RRAP) with $23.649 million from excess reserves of the Mortgage Insurance Fund. RRAP provides “Section 8 like” rent subsidies to some 4000+ very low income disabled, senior and female heads of households living in properties with Section 515 Rural Rental Housing loans.

Manufactured and Mobile Home Replacement Program (MMHRP):  There are nearly 200,000 mobile homes in New York State.  Many older mobile homes in rural areas are found to be seriously deteriorated or dilapidated.  New York State Rural Advocates urge the passage of A.1124 to compliment S. 1378 that has already passed the Senate to create a permanent mobile home replacement program that will provide resources to allow the replacement of seriously deteriorated mobile homes with new units and/or, modular or stick built housing .  Rural Advocates would further support an effort to extend the MMHRP to include mobile homes located in parks with the additional provision that those units would be subject to long term lot leases.

NYS Rural Advocates recommends the addition of $3 million in current appropriates to supplement MMHRP funds appropriated through the House NY 2020 capital funding plan.

NYS Housing Trust Fund – Small Rental Project Development set aside: HTF is New York’s primary rental development program and is the State’s principle mechanism for leveraging federal low income housing tax credits. The Governor proposes to provide the Housing Trust Fund with $44.2 million from the Capital Projects budget. Based on this past years’ experience with the HCR’s small project initiative, NYS Rural Advocates recommends an additional $15 million in capital funds to support the development small projects of less than 20 units that will not use tax credits. The use of tax credits creates issues of scale that will preclude the development of rental projects of truly modest size that are most needed in small rural communities.

ACCESS to Home and HOPE/RESTORE: Access to Home supports the modification of individual housing units to meet the needs of households with a disabled member. HOPE/RESTORE provides funding for the rapid response to emergency home repair needs of elderly homeowners. There is unlimited need for both programs and there is substantial not for profit capacity to deliver these programs.

The executive budget proposes to fund Access to Home at $1 million from the Housing Capital Funds. New York State Rural Advocates recommends a $4 million addition to Access to Home for a total of $5 million in program funding

HOPE/RESTORE is proposed at $1.4 million from Housing Capital Funds.  Rural Advocates recommends a $1million addition for a current program appropriation of $2.4 million.

NY Main Street Program: New York’s modest Main Street program has proven to be an effective tool for revitalizing both commercial and residential elements of our downtown areas. Rural Advocates believes that it is time to expand the program and include technical assistance and capacity building in addition to program funding. The executive proposes to invest $4.2 million in New York’s Main Street Program. In addition, NY Main Street will have access this year to the remaining balance of $5.5 million over three years from the JP Morgan Chase Settlement Funds. Rural Advocates recommend an additional appropriation of $5.8 million resulting in a total of $10 million in current appropriations

The New York Main Street Program has proven to be a particularly useful tool for the revitalization of small downtowns all across our State.  The Executive proposes to fund NYS Main Street with $4.2 million from the Capital Projects Fund.  Rural Advocates recommend an additional appropriation of $5.8 million resulting in a total of $10 million in current appropriations.   Rural Advocates further recommends the creation and funding of a New York Main Street Center that would provide for adequate staffing to manage a larger program and to assist in the development of local capacity to deliver Main Street programs.  Rural Advocates recommends that the New York Main Street Center be funded at $1 million.   Rural Advocates also recommends that the program be removed from the Regional Economic Development Council administration in favor of a direct NYS HCR Request for Proposals.  The NY Main Street experience suggests that these modest programs often fail to show up on the REDC radar and routinely fail to gain the support of some Regional Councils.  This leaves communities in some Regions without access to this small but powerful community revitalization tool.

Infrastructure Development Program (IDP): Infrastructure costs are a serious impediment to the development and operation of affordable housing. In rural areas and small towns, much infrastructure is private with a predominance of wells and septic systems. The maintenance and repair of these systems can be beyond the financial capacity of low income homeowners. Rural Advocates call for an expanded infrastructure development program that will assist homeowners and small, rural multifamily projects to meet non municipal infrastructure costs. New York State Rural Advocates recommends funding IDP at $4 million to support 200 units at up to $20,000 for a demonstration program to be administered by the NYS Rural Housing Coalition under the supervision of NYS Housing and Community Renewal

Rural Area Revitalization Program: RARP is a highly successful program that provides grants and loans of up to $200,000/project for small, high impact, mixed-use projects that stimulate and leverage other funding including housing on Main Street. RARP is not funded in the executive’s budget proposal. Rural Advocates recommends that RARP be funded at $5 million.

Rural and Urban Community Investment Fund: The CIF provides funding “for the creation, preservation or improvement of affordable housing; or the creation, preservation or improvement of the commercial, retail or community facilities component of mixed use affordable residential developments,…”

Created three years ago, the program is a flexible funding source that can leverage other funds to meet very diverse community needs. The executive budget provides no additional funds for the Community Investment Fund in the current budget proposal.  The program will receive an additional $45 million over three years from the House NY 2020 program. Rural Advocates support these funding levels

Homeless Housing and Assistance Program: HHAP supports a range of homeless housing developments by providing capital funds for emergency, transitional and permanent housing for homeless households. HHAP has a history of flexibility with respect to scale and design that allows the program to be effective in a wide range of situations including in the smallest rural communities.

The executive proposes to fund HHAP with $58 million in capital funding with an additional $5 million set aside for HIV/AIDs housing. The executive also proposes to commit an additional $8.333 million from the Mortgage Insurance Fund to provide supportive services to HHAP projects. Rural Advocates support the Governor’s

[1] http://www.nyshcr.org/Publications/NRPPAnnualReport/2016-NPC-RPC-annual-report.pdf

[2] Housing Assistance Council, Rural Data Portal