On May 19th, 2015, the Housing and Insurance Subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing on “The Future of Housing in America: Oversight of the Rural Housing Service (RHS).” The main focus of the hearing was to discuss a recommendation by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to consolidate USDA Rural Housing programs with those administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Opponents to the consolidation feel that the needs of rural families would potentially suffer without a group dedicated to serving rural areas. Currently, many of the USDA offices are staffed by people who live in the areas they serve and they better understand how to administer these financial products in rural areas. There is concern that oversight of servicing may shift to urban areas that are removed from the hardships facing rural America.
During the talks, USDA RHS Administrator Tony Hernandez stated that Fahe was an example of how the agency was using public/private partnerships with nonprofit organizations to boost USDA’s performance.
Fahe has worked closely with USDA-RD to advocate for continued funding for the USDA-RD 502 Direct program. Over the past 5 years Fahe has facilitated training for over 55 nonprofit packaging partners, delivered 577 loan packages for the 502 Direct program totaling over $71 million in eight states, and have provided leadership on a National scale around the issuance of the Final Rule from USDA on Section 502 Packaging and Intermediaries.
Without the direct attention of the USDA on rural housing, especially products that help low-income rural families, we don’t feel that we could have made as big an impact with mortgage products. We don’t know what the outcome will be, but if we hope that if RHS products are consolidated with HUD that we will continue to see the same amount of effort and focus serving our rural families as we see for our urban families.