Enterprise Community Partners Launches Pacific Northwest Rural Rental Housing Preservation Academy

100 participants from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska have joined the online trainings series and peer learning cohort

COLUMBIA, Md. (April 22, 2021) – More than 100 representatives of affordable housing organizations, public agencies and nonprofits from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska are participating in a training series and peer learning cohort to increase the preservation of affordable homes in rural communities. 

Designed and hosted by Enterprise Community Partners (Enterprise), the Pacific Northwest Rural Rental Housing Preservation Academy is a no-cost, online training and best practices exchange to help rural housing providers and nonprofits acquire and preserve USDA Rural Development, HUD 811 and 202, Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and other subsidized affordable housing.

Increasing housing supply, advancing racial equity and building resilience and upward mobility are key pillars in Enterprise’s five-year strategic plan to make home and community places of pride, power and belonging. Preservation of affordable homes is a major focus of Enterprise’s Rural and Native American Program, which has supported safe, decent and culturally appropriate housing on tribal lands and rural communities for nearly 25 years.

“Preservation is key to ensuring affordability in rural communities,” said Susan Anderson, Enterprise senior director, Rural and Native American Program. “It tends to cost less than new construction, prevents displacement when at-risk housing goes to market and keeps valuable subsidies in states.”
 
The academy’s kick-off session, Rural Preservation in the Pacific Northwest, gave an overview of rural communities and housing, providing an informational foundation for the next eight sessions that run from mid-April to September.

Twenty percent of Americans, or 60 million people, live in rural areas or in communities with populations under 50,000. Contrary to popular belief, rural residents face very similar housing cost burdens as those experienced in urban areas, which will only worsen if there is a continued loss of affordable homes. For example, according to an analysis of American Community Survey data, 47% of non-metro renters in both Oregon and Washington are cost-burdened or paying more than 30 percent of their household income toward housing.

JPMorgan Chase, an academy sponsor, is supporting the training as a component of its $30 billion commitment to create economic opportunity for Black, Latinx and other underserved communities with housing at its core. “At JPMorgan Chase, we believe that affordable housing for both individuals and families along with access to equal opportunities and services, including in rural areas, are the cornerstone of vibrant neighborhoods,” said Cecile Chalifour, west regional manager, Community Development Banking, JPMorgan Chase.

A major concern in rural housing affordability is the risk of losing restriction and rental assistance through USDA Section 515, the largest federal affordable rental housing program for rural communities.

“Many are losing affordability that is expiring in 2028, many are over 30 years old and in need of rehabilitation and recapitalization, and many do not meet American with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, an important consideration for older rural renters,” Anderson noted. “Most of these residents are receiving aid and living on less than $13,000 year, and they will be hit especially hard if this housing is lost.”

The academy sessions feature subject matter experts from leading nonprofits and local, state and federal agencies. The peer learning cohort supplements the sessions, and with the academy’s regional focus, it allows for sharing of best practices and cross-pollinating solutions across the states. 

The series is made possible by JPMorgan Chase, Fannie Mae, Oregon Housing & Community Services and the Collins Foundation. 

The following topics are covered in nine sessions to guide participants through a preservation framework: identification of properties, predevelopment planning, acquisition, rehabilitation and property stewardship.

Rural Preservation in the Pacific Northwest (recording)
March 31, 2021 | 10 a.m. PT

515 Overview: USDA RD Housing and the 515 Transfer Process (recording)
April 14, 2021 | 10 a.m. PT

Strategies for Preservation
April 28, 2021 | 10 a.m. PT

Federal and State Housing Finance - Beyond RD
May 12, 2021 | 10 a.m. PT

Funding the Gaps: Private Debt, Section 538 and Alternative Sources
June 9, 2021 | 10 a.m. PT

Capital Needs Assessment, Architects and Scope of Work
June 23, 2021 | 10 a.m. PT

Property Management and Disaster Preparedness & Mitigation
August 4, 2021 | 10 a.m. PT

Community Engagement
August 18, 2021 | 10 a.m. PT

Local and State Policy
September 1, 2021 | 10 a.m. PT

For more information please contact Robin Wolff, senior program director at robinwolff@enterprisecommunity.org

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