Nunn introduces bill to bring more affordable housing to rural areas

WASHINGTON — Iowa Congressman Zach Nunn is co-sponsoring legislation he says will improve housing in rural communities.

Nunn and North Carolina Congressman Wiley Nickel have introduced the Promote Affordable Housing Act. Its goal is to improve the USDA’s Section 524 loan program by extending the term for rural housing site loans and expanding their use.

Nunn, a Republican from Bondurant, says rural America is facing a severe housing shortage.  “I’ve held dozens of public forums and it comes up every single time,” Nunn says, “particularly in our rural communities, getting access to builders for those first-time homebuyers, to somebody who might be able to downscale, to folks who are — like most of us — on a pretty light budget, and can’t go out there and buy a model home that’s in a suburb around Des Moines.”

Nunn’s proposal calls for modernizing the USDA program providing loans used to purchase and develop housing sites for low-income and moderate-income families. Now, the program allows only a two-year loan term at below-market rate. Nunn says the bill would expand the loan repayment window to five years.  Nunn says, “That’s been one of the areas that I’ve heard, particularly from my rural communities, that they don’t even have the ability to get started on this, let alone make the investment to build a house, that then has to meet a number of compliancy requirements.”

Nunn says the proposal would also allow loans to be used for development projects, including surveys, architecture designs and engineering. “This would really open up those low-interest loans for communities to be able to put a lot more housing up,” he says, “and help not only from the actual build site, but from everything that prepares it, to the actual construction, to then the final selling and compliance.”

A companion piece recently passed in the U.S. Senate.