The Farm Bill, which was approved by the Senate on Monday and the House last week, contains a provision that was supported by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) that will enable millions of Americans to maintain access to critical rural housing programs, such as the USDA programs, that are designed to foster access by low income households to homeownership or suitable rental housing. The USDA redraws its maps defining rural areas following every census, and the maps drawn after the 2010 census would have removed more than 900 communities from being classified as “rural areas” due to their growth in population, and thus their residents would not have remained eligible to participate in these USDA programs.

House and Senate leaders appear to have acted in a bipartisan manner to pass this legislation. It is also viewed as a long-term solution because the legislation keeps the current maps designating rural areas, and continues the population definition of 35,000 as to what constitutes a rural area, until after the 2020 census.

The NAHB estimates that this provision in the Farm Bill will facilitate $1.2 billion in additional investment in housing in these rural areas, including new single-family and multifamily construction and remodeling.