Under Secretary for Rural Development Testifies on Rural Housing Service

On May 25, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small testified before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs’ Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation and Community Development on USDA’s Rural Housing Service (RHS) programs. In her testimony, Torres Small emphasized that USDA’s RHS offers a suite of programs to support housing needs in rural America, including financing affordable multifamily rental housing that is geared for low-income, elderly, and disabled individuals and families in rural areas.

Torres Small informed the committee that in the absence of robust federal funding for USDA’s Multi-Family Preservation and Rehabilitation program, the agency will likely lose 333,780 affordable units from nearly 400,000 units in its multifamily portfolio by 2050. The cost of maintaining rural rental assistance (RA) contracts and funding them annually increases over time and consumes the majority of USDA RHS funding, which results in a lack of funds available for new housing and preservation. She also urged Congress to allow multifamily rental properties with paid off USDA mortgages to continue receiving rental assistance, a step that is essential to preserve affordability across the USDA multifamily housing portfolio. The industry strongly supports robust funding for RHS and RA, which were included in President Biden’s budget released this past March. Learn more about the details of the President’s budget in a recent blogpost by Enterprise VP of Public Policy Advocacy, Liz Osborn. For more information on Torres Small’s testimony, watch a recording of the hearing here.

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