By Stan Keasling, RCAC chief executive officer

I just returned from a week in D.C.; which included a snowstorm that shut down the government. I met with the National Rural Housing Coalition (NRHC), Congress members and the Rural Housing Service (RHS). I can tell you that Congress and RHS strongly support the Mutual Self-Help Housing Program. Everyone is confident that we will maintain this year’s 523 and 502 funding levels. NRHC has an excellent working relationship with the House and Senate appropriations subcommittee chairs and ranking members. Even though the process may not look pretty at times, our executive secretary, Bob Rapoza, is confident that we will be fine in the end. He is not, however, confident that the end will happen before December. This means we are likely to have short-term continuing resolutions in the fall as Congress tries to resolve the appropriations process.

The administration would like to see more 504 loan and grant program funds used, and they believe that self-help groups could play a role in this effort. The program allows packagers to charge a fee of up to $750, so helping existing homeowners secure this financing can create a supplemental business line for local organizations. Last year, RHS did not spend the full appropriation of these funds so there is a dependable loan supply if you think you might be interested in securing this type of financing. A number of RCAC self-help staff work with 523 rehab grantees who use the 504 program for funding, so we can help you explore the opportunities.

I am looking forward to celebrating the 50,000th self-help house and the program’s 50th year, and I am also looking forward to seeing all of you in San Antonio this summer!