Personal tools

New Resources for Advocates for the Section 515 Rural Housing Program

Document Actions

  Issue 27, Spring 2005

New Resources for Advocates for the Section 515 Rural Housing Program
by Jim Schaafsma, MPLP Housing Law Attorney

As is the case with much of the HUD subsidized multifamily rental housing inventory, there is a threat of loss of much of the housing subsidized under the USDA's Rural Housing Service's Section 515 program. Two reports about the challenges of and strategies for preserving of Section 515 housing have recently been released.

NHLP/HAC Task Force report

A multilateral task force convened by the National Housing Law Project and the Housing Assistance Council met several times between August 2004 and this February, and issued findings and recommendations. The task force agreed on 3 broad and 6 more detailed recommendations. Its three broad recommendations are:

-- Strengthen incentives and administrative processes to encourage responsible stewardship of the 515 portfolio;

-- Preserve for long-term occupancy by low- and very low-income households all properties currently in the Section 515 portfolio that are needed in their communities. Revitalize the properties' physical condition so that all are, and are maintained as, decent, safe, and sanitary housing.

-- Protect tenants against displacement, and ensure that their homes remain decent and affordable and managed in a manner that protects their interests. To read this report, go to:

LISC Practitioners' Guide

In addressing the "significant recapitalization and long-term viability challenges" that the Section 515 stock faces, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) in the forward to its Practitioners' Guide to the Section 515 Program, says that it is "important to understand how the program works today" - and in what ways the current program structure and operation complicate efforts to provide permanent affordable rental housing in this country's rural areas. And so, LISC created this guide to help organizations interested in serving the needs of rural communities and their low-income residents improve their understanding of the rules of the Section 515 program and the issues confronting it. The guide is divided into 5 chapters:

  • Chapter 1 describes the history and regulatory scheme of the program, along with the characteristics of Section 515 stock, and programmatic trends;
  • Chapter 2 discusses the obstacles to preservation of Section 515 properties and strategies for overcoming them;

  • Chapter 3 identifies the financial resources available to nonprofit development organizations to undertake acquisition and/or rehabilitation of Section 515 properties;

  • Chapter 4 presents the legal framework concerning prepayment and preservation of Section 515 properties;

  • Chapter 5 describes efforts to facilitate Section 515 preservation transactions.

    See the report at:

    Donate Now!
    Access to Justice Donation button