By Stan Keasling, RCAC chief executive officer

President Obama released his latest budget in March and not unexpectedly, it is extremely disappointing. Self-Help funding is set at $10 million and the administration is only requesting $300 million in Section 502 direct loans. At least they were consistent; the request is roughly 1/3 of the appropriation for last year! Here is a link to the press release from the National Rural Housing Coalition (NRHC), http://www.rcac.org/news/378. Consider asking your local paper to print the release.

Congressman Hinojosa sponsored a sign-on letter in the House requesting U.S. Department of Agriculture and Rural Housing Service be restored to fiscal year 2014 levels.

Senator Shumer has sponsored a Dear Colleague letter for rural housing appropriations in the Senate. There are currently eight signatures, please urge your Senator to sign this letter by April 2, 2014. The contact in Senator Schumer’s office is Lane Bodian and can be reached at (202)224-3232 or lane_bodian@schumer.senate.gov.

We have been working with the National USDA Rural Development office about the delays in processing loan applications at area offices and the impact it has on grantees . We are trying to address the impact delays have on program costs and workload for loan packaging staff. We are clarifying with the national USDA office what needs to be re-verified when an application goes “stale.” We hope to hear from the single-family staff soon. On the program income and expense side, we are seeing some flexibility on the extension approvals, which includes an increase in technical assistance costs per equivalent unit.

I hope to see you all at the housing conference in Salt Lake City, May 13-15. USDA Rural Development state directors have committed to attending the conference and I hope several single-family housing directors are able to attend too.