Democrats in Congress will continue to take America in a New Direction, working to create American jobs and a strong new foundation for our economy in rural America, protecting Main Street and the middle class. As part of this effort, on April 27, the House passed the Rural Housing Preservation and Stabilization Act (HR 5017) by a vote of 352-62 to ensure that families in rural communities continue to have access to much-needed affordable mortgages at no cost to the taxpayers.
The legislation continues the Department of Agriculture's loan guarantee program which provides middle-income rural households with access to affordable mortgages (Section 502 home loans).
The economic crisis of the past two years has led to a significant increase in demand for these loans, with the number of these rural home loans tripling since 2006, and federal funding failing to keep up. As a result, the program is expected to run out of funding within days. This bill makes the program self-funded, with small fees on lenders on the guaranteed loan at origination, and will cut discretionary spending $24 million in 2010 if put in place by appropriations.
After nearly a decade of neglect, this is another step by the New Direction Congress to strengthen economic opportunity in rural America. On April 27th, the White House released a new report, “Strengthening the Rural Economy,” documenting, among other things, that the Recovery Act, opposed by all Republicans, is:
- Increasing SBA small business lending, with SBA loans for rural areas 2.5 times higher in December 2009 from January 2009;
- Spurring clean American-made energy, much of which is produced in rural America, along with the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007;
- Accelerating the spread of broadband internet service to rural areas;
- Upgrading water infrastructure to address the lack of safe drinking water in rural areas with $3.7 billion in loans and grants for rural water and wastewater infrastructure;
- Making a down payment in the rural workforce by providing $7 billion for education in rural communities; and
- Investing nearly $26 billion in health information technology, critical to dealing with the unique difficulties rural families face in accessing doctors and hospitals.