Senator Tina Smith, Congressman Rick Nolan Introduce Legislation to Protect Minnesota Families in Rural Areas from Losing their Homes

U.S. Senator Tina Smith and Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.) have teamed up to support affordable housing for Minnesotans who live in rural areas.  

The Rural Housing Preservation Act, which the two lawmakers introduced this week, would help families, seniors, and people with disabilities who are at risk of losing rental assistance through the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Housing Service. The bill also gives communities more flexibility to maintain their existing affordable housing options.  

“As a leader of the rural development caucus, a top priority of mine is to help communities with issues like housing access,” said Senator Smith.“I’ve had a lot of conversations about expanding affordable housing since becoming Senator—and in fact, I recently held a roundtable discussion on the topic in Rochester. But we also need to make sure that people who already have a place they call home can keep it that way. And that’s what this bill does. Our measure would help Minnesotans stay in their homes.”

“With affordable housing already at a premium in rural America, it’s more important than ever to ensure that thousands of low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities have the Section 515 Rural Rental Housing program available and fully funded,” said Congressman Nolan. “Our bill will help provide tenants with the assistance they need to stay in their communities with families and friends nearby. This common sense measure is good for people, and it will help make rural America stronger.”

The Rural Housing Preservation Act, which the two Minnesota lawmakers introduced with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) takes several steps to maintain rental assistance for residents that depend on low interest, direct loans from the Section 515 Rural Rental Housing Loans Program. It would provide vouchers to residents who receive rental assistance and live in properties with prepaid or maturing loans, while ensuring the values of housing vouchers are flexible so they can provide assistance to beneficiaries in higher cost areas. The legislation also decouples rental assistance from the term of a mortgage, allowing USDA to renew rental assistance for a property regardless of the length of the mortgage, and it will make it easier for non-profit entities to acquire Section 515 properties.