WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 20, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — The Financial Services Housing and Insurance Subcommittee held an oversight hearing on Tuesday to examine the performance, challenges and budget priorities of the Rural Housing Service (RHS).
“Today’s hearing will allow those concerned with the future of housing, members of this subcommittee and people across rural America, to better understand the challenges facing rural housing and the opportunities to improve a system plagued with inefficiencies,” said Subcommittee Chairman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO). “We continue to see throughout the nation an overwhelming need for affordable housing, and we need to ensure that RHS is doing everything in its power to fulfill that need.”
Key Takeaways From the Hearing:
While the RHS has generally agreed to and made improvements aligned with recommendations from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), further action is required in certain areas.
Overlap among housing assistance programs shows an opportunity to streamline products that are offered and areas that are served.
The RHS needs to take further actions to improve efficiency and oversight over its rental assistance and farm labor housing programs.
The RHS still has room for improvement in complying with risk-management practices.
Topline Quotes from Witnesses:
“The fragmented and overlapping nature of federal housing assistance stems partly from distinctions between urban and rural areas that existed when federal housing programs were created. However, the rural America of today is different than when the federal government first began to provide housing assistance to rural residents in the 1930s. Today’s constrained budget environment makes it especially important that federal housing programs adapt to changing conditions, reduce waste, and effectively manage risk in order to deliver housing assistance as efficiently and effectively as possible.” – Mathew J. Scirè, Director of Financial Markets and Community Investment for the GAO
“Rural communities are often isolated from population centers and product markets. They benefit most from initiatives integrating local institutions and businesses with State and Federal agencies that have intimate knowledge of local needs.” – Tony Hernandez, Administrator, Rural Housing Service