Representatives Cleaver and Luetkemeyer Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Modernize Rural Housing Programs

Representatives Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) and Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) introduced the “Rural Housing Services Reform Act” in the U.S. House of Representatives on December 14. The bill – a companion to a bipartisan bill of the same name introduced in the U.S. Senate (see Memo10/2/23) – aims to modernize and improve the administration of housing programs run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Housing Service (RHS). NLIHC endorses both the House and Senate versions of the bill. 

The bill proposes several reforms to the existing RHS program, including decoupling rental assistance from maturing mortgages, permanently establishing the Multifamily Housing Preservation and Revitalization Demonstration (MPR), improving USDA’s Section 542 voucher program to better serve voucher holders, permanently establishing the Native Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Relending pilot program, and improving staff training and capacity within RHS. NLIHC provided feedback on and endorsed the updated legislation.

“All Americans desire a safe, affordable place for their families to live. The demand for affordable and decent housing remains high in rural towns like those across Missouri, but the supply has decreased,” said Congressman Cleaver in a press release for the bill. “By cutting through red tape and encouraging public and private partnerships in these communities, we can increase investment in our nation’s rural housing supply and support families in these areas – which is precisely what our legislation aims to do.”

“Owning a home used to be fundamental to the American dream, but it has become incredibly difficult and less realistic for Missouri families,” said Congressman Luetkemeyer in a press release. “I thank Congressman Cleaver for his dedication to remedying this issue, and I’m proud of our bipartisan work. Together, we can address the rural housing shortage, cut through burdensome red tape, and support Missourians.”

Learn more about the proposal and read the bill’s text here.