The system Congress uses to disburse federal housing and community development dollars is deeply unfair, despite their efforts. Poor rural communities in poor states lose out because of a flawed, one-size-fits-all income limit structure. As a result, thousands of families are not eligible for the same level of critical services and supports as their counterparts in rich states.
The Partners for Rural Transformation know these areas are full of hard-working people and of leaders who, when equipped with the proper resources, revitalize communities. The current system references targeting people and communities encountering the most economic distress, however, when a whole area experiences overwhelming concentrated poverty, that system breaks down and an inclusive approach to community revitalization is needed. What if the country increasingly thought about national economic policy as intentionally prioritizing this revitalization, which would advance the economy of persistently poor rural America while maintaining important supportive investments in low-income people?
One proposal in line with this inclusive approach involves changing the income limits for eligibility to participate in housing and community development programs to include a national non-metro floor. The proposal would allow low-income people in the poorest places to access already-existing public investment. Such a simple change would jump start a cycle of increased housing and community development, creating more jobs to rebuild the rural economy, and playing a pivotal role in moving millions of people out of poverty.
Click here to learn more about our new policy brief on Equity in Federal Housing and Community Development Funding: A Proposal for a National Floor