Fifty Years Ago Today

LBJ1President Lyndon B. Johnson introduced the War on Poverty during his State of the Union address.  

The following message was sent out from Robert Stewart, Executive Director of RCAP (Rural Community Assistance Partnership) a national network of nonprofit organizations working to ensure that rural and small communities throughout the United States have access to safe drinking water and sanitary wastewater disposal.  RCAP Solutions is one of the six regional partners within the RCAP network.

LBJ, The Great Society and The Origins of RCAP

January 8, 1964 is perhaps a date in history that you may not be familiar with, but is one of utmost importance to RCAP and much of the work each of you do every day in support of rural communities. It was on this date 50 years ago that President Johnson declared in his State of the Union Address that:

“This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America. I urge this Congress and all Americans to join with me in that effort. It will not be a short or easy struggle, no single weapon or strategy will suffice, but we shall not rest until that war is won. The richest Nation on earth can afford to win it. We cannot afford to lose it.”

While LBJ initiated an incredible number of programs collectively known as the “Great Society”, which I will note later, it was the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, creating the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) that would eventually lead to the organizations that we know today as RCAPs. Under Title III of that Act, “Special Programs to Combat Rural Poverty” were created to provide funding to rural families and communities; this assistance included loans that could be made to purchase land, improve the operation of family farms, allow participation in cooperative ventures, and finance non-agricultural business enterprises, while local cooperatives which served low-income rural families could apply for another category of loans for similar purposes. Community Action Programs were authorized under Title II leading to the creation of Community Action Agencies. Federal money was allocated to States according to their needs for job training, housing, health, and welfare assistance, and the States were then to distribute their shares of the Community Action grants on the basis of proposals from local public or non-profit private groups.

Within two years 1,000 community action agencies (CAA) had been established across America. One of these agencies, Total Action Against Poverty (TAP) out of the Roanoke Valley of Virginia, was chartered the following year. Like other CAAs, TAP was focused on helping poverty stricken individuals and families. However, they realized that to help families out of poverty conditions, community water and wastewater systems were required to provide essential services, protect the health of rural Americans and provide a foundation for economic development. These needs went beyond helping individuals to helping communities and to building community facilities. By 1968 TAP decided to expand its mission throughout the five adjacent counties by creating a new organization for these purposes and asking the OEO for support. Chartered as the Demonstration Water Project (DWP), this non-profit corporation received its first OEO grant in 1969. The success of this approach led DWP to approach OEO in 1971 to broaden its operations resulting in the award of a $6 million grant in 1972 to conduct a national program that then formed the National Demonstration Water Project (NDWP) on March 19, 1973 that included affiliates in five other states.

NDWP developed a program strategy involving field demonstration projects, research and publications, an information clearinghouse, provision of management and technical assistance and through the vehicle of the Commission on Rural Water (an ancillary group established by NDWP) a national alliance of concerned individuals and organizations to bring about needed changes and improvements in rural water and waste disposal services. Such awareness building was necessary since at this time millions of rural families were without community water and wastewater services. Between 1974 and 1978 NDWP spent over $9 million through its affiliates (which had grown by 1978 to 16 statewide affiliates and 35 special program agency partners) to improve or create water and wastewater systems in rural America. At this time NDWP funds were primarily for direct construction related costs.

In 1977 the Community Services Administration (CSA – successor to OEO) provided a grant to NDWP to study and survey the possible role of CAAs in water and sewer development in rural areas. Virtually all of the CAAs indicated a dire need for additional services in this area and over half were already providing these services. Realizing that the extent of the needs required a revised model, NDWP embarked on an initiative to transfer expertise to intermediaries for local development projects. The first two regions identified where interest was strongest and where viable organizations were in place that could be trained to provide assistance in water and sewer matters were RHI in New England (later to become RCAP Solutions) and the Center for Rural Affairs (which later spun off this work to create the Midwest Assistance Program) . These agencies would provide consulting assistance to rural communities and use existing development funding instead of relying on direct project subsidies as was the original NDWP design.

NDWP’s primary funding was transferred to the Economic Development Administration while CSA looked to expand the regional technical assistance model created by NDWP. From 1979 to 1981 CSA designated and funded four additional RCAPs: Virginia Water Project (now the Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project); Rural Community Assistance Corporation, Great Lakes Rural Network (now WSOS Community Action Commission) and Community Resource Group along with RHI and MAP. CSA used a six-region geographic division of the country first developed by the Farmers Home Administration and funded these as the Rural Community Assistance Program. In 1981 CSA was abolished and its duties transferred to the Office of Community Services within the Department of Health and Human Service. In 1989 the six RCAP agencies reorganized NDWP as RCAP, Inc. with a new governance structure that survives to this day: a 12 member Board of Directors consisting of one representative from each region and six at-large members.

RCAP is You!

While the path towards the final development of RCAP was not a “short or easy struggle,” it was an endeavor that has resulted in RCAP assisting and continuing to assist thousands of rural communities not only on water and wastewater needs but also in the areas of affordable housing, solid waste and recycling services, economic development initiatives and the creation of revolving loan funds for community development.

All of you who work for an RCAP are an enduring legacy of fifty years of struggle to alleviate rural poverty, to provide essential water and wastewater services, to create opportunities for affordable housing and home ownership, and to promote economic development. There is no more important way that you can dedicate your lives than by helping our fellow inhabitants of this great land in their attempts to provide a better life for themselves, their families and their communities. While your work to improve the living conditions and opportunities of rural Americans may not always be recognized, be assured that my appreciation for your dedication and your endeavors is boundless. RCAP and its employees constitute an organization and a force for good like no other; one that has a long history of success in its chosen field, one that draws its strength from the values, aspirations and resourcefulness of rural America, one that ensures that equal opportunity is paramount, one that is confident in its abilities, and one that is continually looking for ways to improve its range and delivery of services to those in need.

A Brief Digression – The Great Society’s Accomplishments

Not that I am an historian (I am a Texan!) but I wanted to simply remind everyone what one man, albeit the President, and Congress can accomplish. While everyone may not agree with or be supportive of what was accomplished in the five years LBJ was President, there is no denying the importance of this legacy on the United States. It is almost too easy to compare these achievements with that of our current Administration and Congress. I often wonder where our nation would be if the issues faced in those years were being addressed by our current Congress. But enough of all that, it’s easier for the following legislation and programs created from 1964-1968 to speak for themselves and this list is by no mean exhaustive!

• Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968
• Voting Rights Act
• Economic Opportunity Act – which created Head Start and VISTA in addition to what was described earlier
• Medicare
• Medicaid
• Wilderness Protection Act
• Endangered Species Protection Act
• Wild and Scenic Rivers Act
• National Environmental Policy Act
• National Endowment for the Art and the Humanities
• Omnibus Housing Act, Fair Housing Act
• Stronger Air and Water Quality Acts
• Appalachian Regional Commission
• Elementary and Secondary Education Act
• Higher Education Act
• Expansion of Food Stamps
• Child Nutrition Act
• Public Broadcasting Act – Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Public Radio
• Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act
• Creation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Urban Mass Transit Administration

One final note (from this veteran) on LBJ: he was the first member of Congress to volunteer for service in WWII (sworn in on December 9, 1941) and was awarded the Silver Star while serving in the Pacific. While the Vietnam War was his ultimate downfall, I believe it is important to remember all the many accomplishments of LBJ, including those that led to the creation of what are now the RCAPs.

A Vision Fulfilled – An Excerpt from LBJ’s State of the Union Address on January 8, 1964:

Unfortunately, many Americans live on the outskirts of hope–some because of their poverty, and some because of their color, and all too many because of both. Our task is to help replace their despair with opportunity.

This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America. I urge this Congress and all Americans to join with me in that effort.

It will not be a short or easy struggle, no single weapon or strategy will suffice, but we shall not rest until that war is won. The richest Nation on earth can afford to win it. We cannot afford to lose it. One thousand dollars invested in salvaging an unemployable youth today can return $40,000 or more in his lifetime.

Poverty is a national problem, requiring improved national organization and support. But this attack, to be effective, must also be organized at the State and the local level and must be supported and directed by State and local efforts.

For the war against poverty will not be won here in Washington. It must be won in the field, in every private home, in every public office, from the courthouse to the White House.

The program I shall propose will emphasize this cooperative approach to help that one-fifth of all American families with incomes too small to even meet their basic needs.

Our chief weapons in a more pinpointed attack will be better schools, and better health, and better homes, and better training, and better job opportunities to help more Americans, especially young Americans, escape from squalor and misery and unemployment rolls where other citizens help to carry them.

Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children.

But whatever the cause, our joint Federal-local effort must pursue poverty, pursue it wherever it exists–in city slums and small towns, in sharecropper shacks or in migrant worker camps, on Indian Reservations, among whites as well as Negroes, among the young as well as the aged, in the boom towns and in the depressed areas.

Our aim is not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it. No single piece of legislation, however, is going to suffice.

We will launch a special effort in the chronically distressed areas of Appalachia.

We must expand our small but our successful area redevelopment program.

We must enact youth employment legislation to put jobless, aimless, hopeless youngsters to work on useful projects.

We must distribute more food to the needy through a broader food stamp program.

We must create a National Service Corps to help the economically handicapped of our own country as the Peace Corps now helps those abroad.

We must modernize our unemployment insurance and establish a high-level commission on automation. If we have the brain power to invent these machines, we have the brain power to make certain that they are a boon and not a bane to humanity.

We must extend the coverage of our minimum wage laws to more than 2 million workers now lacking this basic protection of purchasing power.

We must, by including special school aid funds as part of our education program, improve the quality of teaching, training, and counseling in our hardest hit areas.

We must build more libraries in every area and more hospitals and nursing homes under the Hill-Burton Act, and train more nurses to staff them.

We must provide hospital insurance for our older citizens financed by every worker and his employer under Social Security, contributing no more than $1 a month during the employee’s working career to protect him in his old age in a dignified manner without cost to the Treasury, against the devastating hardship of prolonged or repeated illness.

We must, as a part of a revised housing and urban renewal program, give more help to those displaced by slum clearance, provide more housing for our poor and our elderly, and seek as our ultimate goal in our free enterprise system a decent home for every American family.

We must help obtain more modern mass transit within our communities as well as low-cost transportation between them.

Above all, we must release $11 billion of tax reduction into the private spending stream to create new jobs and new markets in every area of this land.

Mass. struggles to help homeless families

Mass. struggles to help homeless families

By Steve LeBlanc, Associated Press

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

BOSTON — By now, Massachusetts wasn’t supposed to have any homeless families.

In 2008, Gov. Deval Patrick set a goal of virtually eliminating family homelessness in five years. The program was intended in part to better detect when families were on the verge of falling into homelessness — and then move in swiftly with aid and support.

Five years later, record numbers of homeless families are straining the state’s shelter system, with about 2,000 families finding temporary housing in dozens of hotels and motels across the state and approximately an equal number staying in family shelters.

For homeless advocates, shelter operators, state officials and, most acutely, the homeless themselves, the maddening persistence of the lack of affordable places to live in Massachusetts can seem intractable.

Patrick and others point to a number of reasons for the surge in homelessness, from the yearlong economic downturn to a pullback in federal aid to Massachusetts’ status as a “right to shelter” place, meaning the state is obligated to find a place to stay for all those who are homeless.

But even Patrick concedes that simply extending the state’s existing anti-homelessness strategies isn’t going to work in the long run.

“We’re going to have to think in some fresh ways rather than just try to do better what we’re already doing,” Patrick said. “I’m really worried about this. It’s not just the spike in the number. It’s what the economy has done to vulnerable people.”

The state already has an array of programs aimed at keeping families from becoming homeless — and getting them back into homes when they do.

One is the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition, or RAFT, program, which offers up to $4,000 a year to help low-income families that are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. In the 2013 fiscal year, the program helped keep more than 3,000 families from becoming homeless, according to Aaron Gornstein, Massachusetts undersecretary for housing and community development.

Another is the HomeBASE program, which provides help paying rent, utility bills and other expenses so people can stay in their homes. In 2013, that program helped keep an additional 1,000 families out of shelters, Gornstein said.

The state also has the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, a version of the federal Section 8 program, which offers rental subsidies to tenants and developments.

Yet another strategy is to develop new low-income housing while preserving the state’s existing affordable housing stock.

Since 2007, the state has created more than 4,000 deeply subsidized units, including more than 700 in 2013 alone, according to Gornstein.

The state also has been spending about $100 million each year to modernize its existing public housing units, rehabbing and bringing back into service about 400 vacant public housing apartments in the past two years. Since 2010, the state also has helped preserve 10,000 privately owned, affordable, subsidized units that were at risk of being converted into market-rate units.

Still, Gornstein said, daunting challenges remain. He pointed to the 5,400 families for whom the HomeBASE temporary rental assistance is ending this fiscal year even as the state forges ahead with its goal of getting homeless families out of hotels and shelters.
“The longer a family stays, the more difficult it is to leave,” he said.

Boston resident Altia Taylor knows the challenges firsthand. For the past five years, she has bounced from shelters to hotels.

Her current temporary housing situation is ending in January, and she hopes to land an apartment in a public housing development for herself, her 15-year-old daughter and her 8-year-old son.

“This long-term instability has me completely out of character that I’m so fed up and overwhelmed,” Taylor, 31, told a Statehouse committee recently. “If I could figure out a way to pay market rate, I would. If I could own my own home, I would. I would have done it a long time ago.”

Those on the front lines of the housing fight say they’re trying to stay upbeat.

Peter Gagliardi, president of HAPHousing, a nonprofit housing agency in Springfield, blamed the housing crisis on stagnant wages, the off-shoring of jobs and a minimum wage that hasn’t kept up with inflation. He said about 200,000 families in the state are spending more than half their income on rent.

Each time the state chips away at the number of families in hotels and shelters, he said, the problem gets worse.

“We’re actually spiraling up,” he said. “Not only do we have to go up the hill, but the hill gets higher.”

Chris Norris, executive director of the Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership, pointed to a 2012 study that found that the vast majority of homeless families in Massachusetts are led by single mothers with an average income of $8,727. He said a study of homeless families in the Boston area also found that just 3 percent originally came from outside Massachusetts.

Norris warned that solving the problem of family homelessness “will be time-consuming and it will be expensive.”

The problem has already become an issue in next year’s governor’s race, with Republican candidate Charlie Baker vowing to work during his first year in office to eliminate the practice of placing homeless families in hotels and motels.

Patrick, a Democrat who isn’t seeking re-election, said he hasn’t read Baker’s plan, but he’s willing to consider any good ideas.

“If there’s enough detail to put it in place and I think it’s working, I’ll probably do it before the election,” he said.

Article link can be found here:

http://www.recorder.com/news/nation/world/10032766-95/mass-struggles-to-help-homeless-families

Mass scrambling to find housing for its homeless

rathe_homeless_biz02GREENFIELD — Record numbers of homeless families are overwhelming the state’s emergency shelter system, filling motel rooms at the cost to taxpayers of tens of millions of dollars a year.

An average of nearly 2,100 families a night — an all-time high — were temporarily housed in motel rooms in October, just about equaling the number of families in emergency shelters across the state, according to be the state Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.

The demand for shelter is so great that the state has been temporarily sending homeless families from Boston to motels in Western Massachusetts, although state officials said many have been relocated back again, closer to home.

 

Read the full article here: http://b.globe.com/189hBdY

RCAP Featured in WBJ Article on Sequestration

RCAP Solutions President & CEO Karen A. Koller KollerWBJdiscusses the difficult impact that Sequestration has had on the organization and our clients in the most recent edition of the Worcester Business Journal.

Photo caption:  Karen Koller of RCAP Solutions: Sequestration cuts impact those who serve “people in need.”

Click here for full article:  Central Mass. Firms Feel Sting Of Federal Budget Cuts

Heat, rent subsidies in danger if shutdown lingers

From The Associated Press:

BOSTON — As winter approaches and the federal government shutdown lingers, millions of low-income Americans face potential delays in receiving help with their heating bills and monthly rent.

Among the programs that could be impacted as of Nov. 1 are the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, and a voucher program that allows poor families, seniors and the disabled live in private rental units, according to local agencies and state officials who administer the benefits.

The heating program, which last winter provided heating assistance to nearly 9 million income eligible people nationwide, is in limbo until the budget impasse is settled, said Mark Wolfe, executive director of the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association.

“We don’t have an appropriation yet. We don’t know when we are going to get it. We don’t know how much it will be,” said Wolfe. “And we are already at the beginning of the winter heating season.”

In states like Massachusetts, heating assistance benefits typically begin to go out Nov. 1, but many of the 20 nonprofit agencies that administer the program have not even started accepting applications and one has been forced to close without the federal funding, according to Joe Diamond, head of the Massachusetts Association for Community Action.

The state received $133 million in LIHEAP funding last year, with the typical seasonal benefit ranging from $675 to $1125 for individuals and families who heat their homes with oil, said Diamond.

“The shutdown really has to end,” he said, for heating assistance to beat the arrival of cold weather.

But even if President Obama and congressional Republicans were to come to terms immediately, Wolfe noted that it still could take several more weeks for funding formulas to be determined and money allocated to states.

Nationally, LIHEAP funding was just under $3.5 billion in the last fiscal year, a 30 percent decline since 2010.

Some states could take action to fill the void.

Diamond said he was hoping the Massachusetts Legislature would appropriate $20 million, both to cover emergency heating needs if the federal shutdown continues and to offset the recent funding cuts, particularly with forecasts pointing to higher heating costs this winter.

The Housing Choice Voucher Program, administered through funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, pays up to 70 percent of rent for low-income families and individuals who live in privately-owned housing but cannot afford the market rents. The funds are paid directly to landlords.

Aaron Gornstein, Massachusetts undersecretary for housing and community development, said the state was able to pay October rent for its 20,000 vouchers, but would be unable to meet November rents unless the shutdown ends and funds can be obtained from HUD.

The problem would impact both tenants and landlords, he said. Understanding the situation, many landlords might hold off until the government reopens and the payments can be made. But even if landlords chose to pursue eviction, the process would take several months.

“The tenant won’t be immediately displaced,” said Gornstein.

Quality Training to Revitalize Communities and Sustain Jobs in the Water Sector

Sukhwindar Singh, Director of Education and Training, RCAP Solutions

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RCAP Solutions is the northeast member of the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) with headquarters in Worcester, Massachusetts and onsite drinking water and wastewater technical assistance specialists and trainers throughout the Northeastern United States and Caribbean.  All RCAP specialists utilize state and federal funding to work onsite with small rural drinking water and wastewater systems to effect four community outcomes:

a)      Improved environmental and community health

b)      Compliance with federal and state regulations

c)      Sustainable water and waste disposal facilities

d)      Increased capability of local leaders to address current and future needs.

For years, RCAP personnel have documented the unique challenges that small systems face in providing reliable drinking water and wastewater services that meet federal and state standards.  These challenges can include but are not limited to a lack of financial resources and customer base, aging infrastructure, management limitations, and high staff turnover.  RCAP offers educational outreach to small systems to raise awareness of technical, managerial, and financial issues.  These RCAP tools, resources and methods assist system personnel and their boards to successfully operate and manage the system while addressing some of the barriers mentioned above.

Within the past year or so, RCAP has developed and released the following documents, materials and training programs that support economic and workforce initiatives:

  • An infographic on how Water Infrastructure Creates Jobs is available for free download here.
  • Color Brochures for recruiting new drinking water and wastewater operators to the water sector.  These brochures encourage those who are entering the workforce or those looking for a career change to consider a job in drinking water/wastewater operations.  These brochures highlight the benefits of jobs in the water sector, the education  and training experience needed and are suitable for distribution at high school and college career fairs, community colleges, technical schools and programs that help veterans find work.  These brochures are available at www.rcap.org/opcareers.
  • Wastewater Training Modules for Operators of Small Systems- intended primarily for training contact hours/CEUs or precertification training, there are 12-14 modules newly developed for entry level operators on a variety of topics including Wastewater Chemistry, Overview of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) Program, Energy Efficiency, Overview of Wastewater, Lagoons and Ponds, Preliminary and Primary Treatment, Wastewater Sampling and Preservation, Wastewater Disinfection, Introduction to Wastewater Plant Instrumentation and Monitoring, Wastewater Math for Operators, and a number of other topics.  Learning objectives, exercises, assessment and evaluation are core elements of these modules and characteristic of the RCAP approach. Seven of these modules were developed by RCAP Solutions and its qualified contractor Cotton Environmental.   All the training modules were developed around the most recent findings from the Association of Boards of Certification Need-to Know Critera for Wastewater Treatment Operators. In order to access our operator training materials, we encourage you to sign up for an RCAP Solutions training or contact us about setting up events near you.
  • Our first RCAP Solutions Summer Series Operator Training Tour was a success! Full day workshops were held in South Burlington, Vermont; Rutland, Vermont; Concord, New Hampshire and Worcester, Massachusetts.  The morning trainings consisted of the Clean Water Act & NPDES Program, Overview of Wastewater Treatment and Discharge Monitoring Reports.  The afternoon sessions consisted of the Intro to Chemistry and Wastewater Sampling and Preservation.  In addition, local officials and managers from surrounding municipalities were invited to a sponsored Lunch and Learn to learn more about wastewater characteristics and stream standards so that they are better informed to effectively manage their system.  In all, approximately 40 individuals attended the trainings with representatives from 14 communities with Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWS) and over 21 operators.  A review of pre and post-test scores for the attendees notes an overall improvement in understanding of basic concepts at the conclusion of the event and all attendees noted that the workshops met their expectations, and that class participation was encouraged and that the presenter(s) demonstrated knowledge of the topic and good presentation skills.  Many attendees noted that they would attend RCAP Solutions trainings again and found the material and video demonstrations quite useful.
  • RCAP has also released a new series of wastewater focused videos that highlight wastewater collection systems, small on-site wastewater treatment systems, energy efficiency, and preparing for emergencies for operators.  This compliments a series of videos already produced by RCAP  on wastewater processes for non-operators.  All these videos can be found here:  www.rcap.org/dwwwtreatment and www.rcap.org/newresources .

There are many additional materials and programs that have not been mentioned here.  Our goal was to highlight some newer materials that have recently been developed courtesy of our various funders.  All operator training workshops, modules, and videos were presented and funded as a part of the EPA/RCAP Training and Technical Assistance for Small, Publicly Owned WW Systems, Onsite/Decentralized Wastewater Systems and Private Well Owners to Improve Water Quality Project 2012-2013. Please contact Sukh Singh, Director of Education and Training for information about these materials at ssingh@rcapsolutions.org or 814.861.7072.

Community Resources – A New Year of Programming

Scott Mueller, Director of Community Resources and Chief Rural Affairs Officer

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RCAP Solutions is now entering a new year of programming – with many great programs and technical assistance services to offer!
We are pleased to announce that we have once again been awarded funding to provide technical assistance to small rural and underserved communities from both USDA Rural Development and Health and Human Services. We also provide services under a direct contract, allowing delivery of more refined project development, management, and financial services.

In many cases, if the community project is eligible, RCAP Solutions can subsidize costs and work with communities to create an effective and affordable approach. We can also assist with the many aspects of project development, including asset management plans, developing sanitary surveys, and Title Five inspections in Massachusetts.

As rural communities face increasing financial challenges it becomes more important than ever to manage your community infrastructure and assets properly, to forecast projects and associated costs in advance in order to make those services affordable. Developing an infrastructure master plan can be helpful in this area, as well as for state and federal agencies that provide funding assistance. A long term relationship can be built to maintain compliance and proper planning for new and existing infrastructure upgrades, as well as funding assistance.

We look forward to serving your community.  Please visit our new website www.rcapsolutions.org for more details or call Scott Mueller, Director of Community Resources and Chief Financial Officer at 315-482-2756.

Senator Eldridge Visits RCAP Solutions

Massachusetts Senator James B. Eldridge from the Middlesex and Worcester District, visited RCAP Solutions today to tour the new Worcester headquarters, receive an overview of our programs and services with an in depth discussion around the work we do in our Community Resources division, specifically water and wastewater programs.

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Senator Eldridge tours the RCAP Worcester offices.

Pictured from left: Paul Teixeira, Vice President & Chief Program Officer; Brian Scales, Chief Development & Governmental Affairs Officer; Karen A. Koller, President and CEO; Senator James Eldridge, Tunde Baker, Regional Lead for Ma/RI/CT; and James Starbard, Environmental Water and Wastewater Technician.

 

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Senator Eldridge meets with staff members and receives an overview of RCAP Solutions programs.

Our HCEC Counselors Receive New Certifications

HCEC in Training

Congratulations to the members of our Housing Consumer Education Center Team on their recent certifications!

Pictured is Robert Ochoa, Housing Counselor Specialist; Madeline Cotto, HCEC Coordinator and Pam Moshier, Chief Consumer Education Officer and Director of HCEC at the NeighborWorks Training Institute in Philadelphia PA.

Robert and Maddie are now certified in Homebuyer Educaton Methods as Trainers and Pam received Certification in Homeownership Counseling for Program Managers and Executive Directors.

For more information on our Housing Consumer Education Center, please visit our HCEC Page on our website.

About NeighborWorks Center for Homeownership Education and Counseling:  NCHEC promotes sustainable homeownership by supporting the industry’s educators and counselors. Through its training programs, professional certifications and other tools and resources, NCHEC increases the number of qualified homeownership professionals who are prepared to help people realize the dream of lifelong homeownership.  Visit their website for more information.

HUD Reports Record-Breaking Worst Case Housing Needs

According to HUD’s Worst Case Housing Needs 2011: Report to Congress, the number of renters with worst case housing needs grew to a record 8.48 million in 2011, from a previous high of 7.10 million in 2009. There has been a 43% increase in worst case housing needs since 2007. HUD released the full report on August 16, after having released an executive summary of the report in February (see Memo, 2/22).

“Worst case housing needs” are those of very low income (below 50% of Area Median Income) renters who do not receive government housing assistance and who either spend more than half of their income on rent, live in severely inadequate conditions, or who face both of these challenges. The vast majority of households with worst case housing needs have severe housing cost burdens, while 3% live in severely inadequate conditions.

The gap between worst case housing needs and assisted households is the highest ever recorded, with two worst case housing needs households for every one assisted household.

No household type, demographic group, or region was unaffected by the growth of worst case housing needs from 2009 to 2011. Nearly 4 in 10 (38.2%) worst case housing needs households in 2011 were families with children, followed by non-family renters (35%) and the elderly without children (17.3%). While very low income families with children are a high proportion of worst case housing needs households, only one in four very low income families with children receive assistance. Forty-eight percent of new worst case housing needs households were among white, 28% among Hispanic, and 13% among black households.

On the national level, 44% of very low income households have worst case housing needs; this rate is slightly higher in the West and slightly lower in the Northeast and Midwest. Further, the prevalence of worst case housing needs is slightly higher in suburbs and somewhat lower in non-metropolitan areas. Housing assistance plays an important role in reducing worst case housing needs but is relatively less common in suburbs where only 18.4% of very low income households are assisted.

Worst Case Housing Needs 2011 identifies household formation, renter share, renter income losses, renter assistance gap, and affordable unit competition as contributing factors to the growth in worst case housing needs. The likelihood of a very low income renter facing worst case housing needs increased from 41.4% in 2009 to 43.9% in 2011. The increase in worst case housing needs is explained primarily by the increased number of renters. The report suggests that the number of renter households increased because of foreclosures and unemployment, forcing previous homeowners to turn to the rental market. New household formations also added more renters. Together, new household formations and share of renters added 1.38 million in worst case housing needs (53% of the total increase from 2009 to 2011).

Competition for affordable housing also continued to grow—higher income renters occupy 38.4% of the units affordable to ELI renters, 34.4% of the units affordable to VLI renters, and 29.9% of the units affordable to LI renters.

The nation no longer has enough affordable units for renters at the lowest incomes even if allocation were perfect. The vacancy rate for units affordable to ELI households is at an all-time low with just 5.4% vacant (compared to 13.1% in 2009) and this at-risk population faces the tightest market since HUD began to measure worst case housing needs in 1985. The report concluded by raising the importance of housing vouchers to assist the 8.48 million households with worst case housing needs.

This report is the 14th in the series that HUD prepares for Congress using the latest American Housing Survey to discuss trends and causes of worst case housing needs.

The full report is available here: http://bit.ly/YpkP4E