Press Releases

Missouri Reps. Luetkemeyer, Cleaver Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Modernize Rural Housing Programs

Today, U.S. Representatives Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) and Emmanuel Cleaver II (D-MO) introduced the H.R. 6785, the Rural Housing Service Reform Act. The bipartisan bill would enable the most significant modernization of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rural housing programs in years, helping to improve programs, cut red tape, and create and preserve affordable housing opportunities. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

“Owning a home used to be fundamental to the American dream, but it has become incredibly difficult and less realistic for Missouri families. I thank Congressman Cleaver for his dedication to remedying this issue, and I’m proud of our bipartisan work. Together, we can address the rural housing shortage, cut through burdensome red tape, and support Missourians,” said Congressman Luetkemeyer

“All Americans desire a safe, affordable place for their families to live. The demand for affordable and decent housing remains high in rural towns like those across Missouri, but the supply has decreased” said Congressman Cleaver. “By cutting through red tape and encouraging public and private partnerships in these communities, we can increase investment our nation’s rural housing supply and support families in these areas - which is precisely what our legislation aims to do. As senior leaders on the Financial Services Committee who are known for reaching across the aisle to deliver bipartisan solutions that benefit our communities, I’m hopeful that Congressman Luetkemeyer and I can usher this commonsense legislation through the House of Representatives and begin the process of lowering housing costs in rural America.”

“The Local Initiatives Support Corporation is proud to support the Rural Housing Services Reform Act, since we’ve seen firsthand the hardship caused by losing affordable rental housing in rural communities. U.S. Department of Agriculture financed properties are often the only affordable rental housing in small towns and house some of our nation’s most vulnerable residents,” said Caitlin Cain, Vice President of the Rural Local Initiative Support Corporation. “The resources provided under this legislation will help preserve this critical housing stock while furthering tenant protections. We applaud Representatives Cleaver and Luetkemeyer for their commitment to rural America and leadership in affordable housing preservation.”

In Missouri, elderly residents make up nearly half of those at risk of losing affordable housing under USDA 515, a multifamily housing program, threatening their ability to age at home.

The Rural Housing Service Reform Act would take long overdue steps to address these concerns and modernize federal rural housing programs by:

  • Fixing the longstanding problem for USDA Section 515 properties that were financed decades ago and now have maturing mortgages, making it easier for non-profits to acquire these properties and ensure that rental assistance doesn’t disappear when those mortgages mature. This provision will ensure that more than 15,000 rural housing units in Missouri remain affordable in the coming years.
  • Updating the USDA’s outdated process of measuring incomes, bringing it in line with the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) practices.
  • Modernizing the USDA’s foreclosure process to eliminate red tape, better protect homeowners, and ensure USDA-owned properties remain affordable in the years to come.
  • Updating the rules for a home repair loan program to streamline the process to receive smaller, home repair lending.
  • Making long overdue investments in Information Technology so that USDA can process loans more efficiently, ensuring staff are spending more time reviewing applications and less doing paperwork.
  • Making permanent the USDA’s pilot program to make mortgage loans available in Native communities by partnering with local CDFIs.

The Rural Housing Service Reform Act is endorsed by Housing Assistance Council (HAC), National Housing Law Project (NHLP), National Rural Housing Coalition (NRHC), Genesis Fund, National Affordable Housing Management Association (NAHMA), Enterprise, LISC, National NeighborWorks Association, Coastal Enterprises, Inc., National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), Bipartisan Policy Center, and D.W. Jones.

Read the full bill HERE.