Address the Affordable Housing Crisis in Rural Communities


Many rural communities are facing a severe housing crisis: nearly 1 in 5 rural renters spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing, while limited housing stock often means rural renters often have little choice but to live in substandard conditions.[1] Rural renters, especially rural Indigenous and Latino people, are more likely to live in overcrowded housing or housing without adequate plumbing or complete kitchen facilities.

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State Policy Priorities

  • Fund programs for home purchase for low- and moderate-income people.
  • Fund programs for home repair for low-income homeowners and units rented to low-income residents at affordable rents.
  • Support residents of mobile homes by allowing owners to title their property as real property in a cooperative or nonprofit-owned community.
  • Ensure that tenant rights provisions apply to residents of mobile home parks.
  • Fund grants for developers to develop and rehab affordable housing in rural areas, with incentives for small-scale development in line with local planning priorities.
  • Establish tenants rights and protections, as well as legal services for tenants.
  • Establish emergency funds and services for tenants who need short-term assistance to stay in their homes.

State Examples

  • Lawmakers in Nebraska (2017 NE LB 518) enacted the Rural Workforce Housing Investment Act, which provides grants to nonprofit development organizations for the development of affordable owner-occupied and rental housing projects in rural communities with housing and workforce shortages.
  • A Washington (2017 WA SB 5647) bill established the Low-Income Home Rehabilitation Revolving Loan Program, which provides low-income rural homeowners with loans to make repairs that address the health, safety, and durability of their homes, with priority given to senior citizens, people with disabilities, families with young children, and veterans.
  • A housing omnibus bill enacted in Minnesota (2021 MN HF 4) reforms titling for manufactured homes by allowing owners to title their property as real property instead of personal property in a cooperative or nonprofit-owned community. The bill also expanded eligibility for an existing rehabilitation loan program for low-income homeowners to owners of manufactured homes and appropriated new funding to support the redevelopment of manufactured home communities.
  • Colorado (2020 CO HB 1201) passed a bill requiring that homeowners in a mobile home park be given the opportunity to purchase the park if the landlord anticipates selling it.
  • Iowa (2020 IA SF 2238) lawmakers proposed a bill to extend key tenant protections to owners of mobile homes living in mobile home parks, including mandating “good cause” for evictions and 180 days’ notice before rent increases went into effect. Rent increases would also not be allowed to exceed the local inflation rate unless there was a legitimate reason.
  • California (2019 CA AB 1783) passed a bill reforming a state program that supports the development of farmworker housing projects. Projects developed through the program now must be designed for use by a single family or household, and the development must meet certain environmental requirements. Additionally, employers are prohibited from serving as landlords, and property management is limited to nonprofit or public affordable housing organizations.


Inspired? Ready to dig in on these issues with your rural neighbors? Our practical communications toolkits will help you connect with new communities through common values. The toolkits provide examples on narrative framing, press release templates, sample talking points, and more. 

Click here for the communications toolkit on Building Rural Infrastructure.

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