Membership Messages

Fahe Advocacy Update: Comment on protections from predatory loans in our communities; Trump and Congressional Democrats make progress on infrastructure investment proposal; HAC and CIRD to release funding proposal for rural placemaking

The Latest

  • Protections from predatory loans in our communities: comments due May 15
  • House Financial Services Committee holds hearing on U.S. housing infrastructure
  • Rep. Maxine Waters releases draft legislation of “Housing is Infrastructure Act of 2019”

Longer Term

  • President Trump and Congressional Democratic Leaders make progress on $2 trillion infrastructure investment proposal
  • Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders introduce rural policy plan
  • HAC releases funding opportunity for rural placemaking and creative arts

The Latest

As we discussed in a February Advocacy Update, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is considering rolling back consumer protections for payday loans, vehicle loans, or other high-cost installment loans. The 2017 protections require lenders to check the borrower’s ability to pay before making a loan. Known as the “underwriting provision,” it prevents lenders knowingly making loans a borrower could not repay. As you know, payday lenders serve a large market in our region, but often take advantage of their borrowers. In this case, the CFPB protections go a long way to making this emergency funding stream a little less fraught for our neighbors. Please join Fahe in commenting on the proposed rule by clicking here. Comments must be made by May 15, 2019. And while comments need to be one-third original to be counted, here is a short piece for your comment to get you started if helpful:

Where I work in Appalachia [or Appalachian insert state], payday lenders are unfortunately often the way people access credit. Lower incomes in our area, and a shortage of banking institutions, mean that many people resort to payday lenders in emergency situations. These people are often taken advantage of by predatory loan practices including high interest rates and high-installment costs. The October 2017 protections, including the “underwriting provision” that makes lenders check a borrower’s ability to pay, should be implemented to reduce the predatory nature of the loans made in our community.

The House Financial Services Committee held a hearing on 4/30 to discuss the state of housing infrastructure. The National Low Income Housing Coalition spoke on the importance of incorporating housing stock within national conversations and infrastructure investments. We know from working in Appalachia firsthand the decline in funding for affordable housing and we join calls for housing to be carved out as an integral part of the drive to renew our nation’s infrastructure.

In conjunction with that hearing, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) released draft legislation for the “Housing is Infrastructure Act of 2019”. The bill would authorize more than $90 billion for affordable housing projects, with $10 billion allocated for CDBG. Much of the legislation is targeted towards renewing our nation’s dwindling public housing infrastructure. Fahe supports those efforts, and encourages elected leaders to also design programs that support homeownership and supportive services, so that people living in each part of the country have choices about their housing.

Longer Term

Democratic leaders met with President Trump on April 30 and touted progress towards a large scale infrastructure investment plan. The Washington Post reported that President Trump was supportive of a $2 trillion dollar investment number as a target for what is needed to bring our nation’s infrastructure up to speed. Investments in new bridges, roads, and high quality broadband would benefit the region by bringing both high quality, good paying jobs, and improving the brick and mortar infrastructure we use every day. Fahe is hopeful that housing will be incorporated as part of this infrastructure plan, and that elected leaders continue to make these investments a reality for people and communities across the country.

Senators Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Bernie Sanders (VT) have released rural policy plans that seek to revitalize rural America. These plans seek to preserve America’s family farms, implement stronger anti-trust protections against agricultural corporations on the theory that small farming communities and business are held hostage to monopoly power. Sanders’ bill would also prioritize investment in rural housing, CDFIs, and areas of persistent poverty, as well as provide investment infrastructure for rural childcare, jobs, healthcare, and broadband. Fahe supports efforts to strengthen large cities, smaller towns, and rural communities and welcomes campaigns’ attention to important priorities across the country.

HAC has partnered with the National Endowment for the Arts to administer the Citizens Institute on Rural Design (CIRD). The CIRD will award three top grantees $10,000 and support for design, placemaking, and arts based workshops in rural and tribal communities (communities with 50,000 or less). Those workshops will be coupled with technical assistance and resources from the CIRD to implement projects that design rural communities in a way that maximized local assets. The CIRD will release the Request for Applications in late May and HAC has specifically reached out encouraging Fahe Members to apply. Twenty applicants will receive the technical assistance resources and benefits of peer sharing, even if they are not in the top three to be selected for the capacity grant. More info at the CIRD website.

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