By Dawn Van Dyke, communications manager

Despite all the attractions rural living offers: a slower pace, friendly neighbors, fresh food, affordable housing is scarce.

According to a recent article, rural communities, which continue to struggle after the Great Recession, face a whole host of challenges to provide housing residents can actually afford to live in. Investors aren’t building new homes and existing homes often aren’t well maintained. That means even if a home has a reasonable purchase price, it often requires substantial work, which costs money. On the flip side, rural communities with available, affordable homes often lack employment opportunities.

Contributing to the problem in rural communities: lower wages, lower property values and fewer banks willing to make home loans. Even during the housing boom between 2003 and 2010, 56 percent of rural mortgage applications were declined.

Government supported programs, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture Mutual Self-Help Housing Program offers opportunities for low-income homeownership, but funding continues to be at risk, especially in the current Administration’s budget.

‘”But such housing assistance programs are few and far between in rural America,” Lisa Pruitt, a law professor at the University of California, Davis, who specializes in rural poverty told “It often makes it very hard for families to crawl out of poverty.”’

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