Weekend Roundup: Rural Housing Cuts

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The Housing Assistance Council reports that the president’s budget for USDA rural housing programs emphasizes loan guarantees, rather than direct loans. The loan programs and other rural housing programs are in line for some big cuts.

Direct loans for homebuyers (Section 503) would drop from $900 million in 2013 to $360 million in fiscal year 2014. Section 515 loans, which secure rental housing for low-income rural residents, would fall from $31.3 million to $28.4 million. 

The USDA self-help housing program, Section 523, would drop by two thirds, from $30 million in 2013 to $10 million in 2014.

Saturday Mail. The U.S. Postal Service has backed away from plans to
discontinue Saturday delivery
, at least for the time being. The post office planned to go to five-day-a-week
delivery for regular mail in August. But that plan was thwarted by
congressional action in the last stopgap budget agreement. The board
of governors voted to rescind its plans to do away with Saturday delivery.
Instead, they will try to renegotiate labor contracts to reduce expenses. 

How Straight Is Rural? John D. Sutter of CNN visits what Census data says is among the straightest places in America. Franklin County, Mississippi, reported no same-sex cohabitating couples in the 2010 Census. Sutter found
that the Census didn’t reflect reality (of course). And he also found a more
forthright and open discussion on the issue than he expected.

Sutter reports:

“But here’s the thing: There certainly are gay people in
Franklin County. And for the most part, they’re not in the closet. Many are
happy to talk about it.

“It’s their neighbors and families who aren’t.”

Unglamorous Tech. National Journal highlights the efforts of U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Va.-6th, to call attention to the importance of technology in economic development outside major urban hubs. The article portrays the Republican representative as a quiet champion of tech who sees the need for small businesses to get better access to broadband. He’s an unlikely advocate because his district, which includes Lynchburg, Virginia, is better known for manufacturing and agriculture than high tech. “Technology means more than flashy start-ups in distant places. It’s also creating economic value for members’ constituents back home,” writes the Journal’s Brian Fung. 

Silver Springs State Park. At a time when we heard a lot about the privatization of government services, Florida is bucking the trend. The privately own Silver Springs park, famous for its glass-bottomed boats, is moving into the state park system. The commercial manager of the park departs in September, handing over operations to the state park system. 

The government of Marion County, Florida, is seeking to become the lead contractor for the new state park. The role would put the county in the position to act as intermediary between the state and the private businesses that will offer services in the park.

The springs aren’t what they used to be. Algae, fed by agricultural pollution, has covered the springs’ white rocks. And water flow has been reduced by development. NPR reports on efforts to restore the springs. When the park comes under state management, some of the more commercial activities, like an amusement ride, will cease. The glass-bottomed boats will remain.

Purple State Blues: Paul Foer sounds a common theme in his Annapolis, Maryland, Capital Gazette column on the urban-rural divide in Maryland.

“Whether you generally trust or distrust government, believe it tends to create more problems than it solves or you wish to shrink government and lower taxes and spending or increase spending may be in many respects a matter of the population density in your area. I believe this trend holds true in the county, state and nationally on a variety of issues and voting patterns, especially in presidential politics. Of course income, education, marital status, age and ethnicity are also significant determining factors but even they too can be correlated with a urban-rural component.”

Though touted as one of the “bluest” (most Democratic) states in the Union, Maryland is really “a purple state under blue control,” Foer writes.

 

 

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