KOHL INTRODUCES BILL TO BOLSTER HOUSING COUNCIL FUNDS
Today, U.S. Senator Herb Kohl introduced a measure to authorize federal funding for the Housing Assistance Council (HAC), a non-profit organization devoted to developing affordable housing in rural communities across the country. HAC partners with rural housing non-profits, public agencies, and housing authorities, providing them with technical assistance and loan programs designed to reinforce local rural housing growth.
"Finding safe, decent, affordable housing in rural America can be very difficult," Kohl said. "We lean on organizations like the Housing Assistance Council to help spur housing development in rural communities across our country. We've seen, first-hand, the good work this organization has done in Wisconsin and we ought to reinforce these efforts by passing this bill and boosting funding for their critical charge."
In Wisconsin, the largest borrower from HAC is the Southeastern Wisconsin Housing Corp, in Burlington. They have received over $2.9 million in grants and loan from HAC, building more than 260 housing unit with the grants. Across Wisconsin, HAC has made almost $5.2 million in loans and grants to 17 local non-profit housing groups and leveraged $55 million in financing from outside sources for rural affordable housing.
Approximately one fifth of the nation's population lives in rural communities. More than 7 million people who live in rural areas have incomes at or below the poverty line -- 2.5 million of them children. Notably, five million rural households pay more than 30 percent of their income in housing costs.
In the past, HAC has received appropriations from the Self Help and Assisted Homeownership Opportunity Program, from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. These appropriations have helped HAC provide loans to 1,875 organizations across the country, raise and distribute over $5 million in capacity building grants, and hold regional training workshops. HAC has made over $201 million in seed loans to help create almost 60,000 homes in rural communities.
Kohl's "Housing Assistance Council Authorization Act" authorizes $10 million for the HAC in 2008 and then $15 million from 2009 to 2014. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) has signed on as a cosponsor of this legislation.