Rural States Refusing Federal Housing Aid

Rural states like Nebraska, Montana, and West Virginia have refused federal funding to aid vulnerable renters during the economic shocks of the pandemic, and that money is now headed to other parts of the country.

2 minute read

April 25, 2022, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Rural Highway

marekuliasz / Shutterstock

“Governor Pete Ricketts, a Republican, has declined to spend $120 million in federal housing assistance funds, claiming the aid risks turning Nebraska into ‘a welfare state,’” according to an article in the Boston Globe by Pranavar Baskar [potential paywall].

Nebraska isn’t the only state to pass on federal funding in recent months—“hundreds of millions of that money is going unused,” according to Baskar, despite the $46 billion Emergency Rental Assistance Program's track record of success. The funding has helped stave off an estimated 1.3 million evictions, according to housing experts cited in the article. A similar redistribution of the program's funding was threatened in January 2022, as states like Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Louisiana were slow to spend their share, according to a New York Times article published at the time.

Despite the obvious need for housing assistance in rural parts of the country, the Biden administration is now responding to three states' refusal to spend their share of the program's funding by redirecting the funding to more populous parts of the country.

“In March, the Treasury reclaimed $377 million in rental aid, including $11 million from Nebraska, $45.3 million from Montana, and more than $39 million from West Virginia. North Dakota returned nearly half its funds. The federal government then sent that money to New York, California, and New Jersey — states that clamored for more help to weather a severe housing crises,” according to the article.

This isn’t the first time in history that Republican leadership at the state level has refused the largesse of economic stimulus spending. Then-Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) infamously rejected federal funding for high-speed rail during the Obama administration in 2011. That money was eventually redirected to California.

Friday, April 15, 2022 in The Boston Globe

Single-family homes in a suburban neighborhood in Florida.

New Florida Law Curbs HOA Power

The legislation seeks to cut down on ‘absurd’ citations for low-level violations.

June 16, 2024 - The Guardian

Three colorful, large beachfront homes, one khaki, one blue, and one yellow, with a small dune in front and flat sand in foreground.

Florida Homeowners 'Nope Out' of Beach Restoration Over Public Access

The U.S. Corps of Engineers and Redington Shores, Florida are at a standstill: The Corps won’t spend public money to restore private beaches, and homeowners are refusing to grant public access to the beaches behind their home in return for federal assistance.

June 7, 2024 - Grist

Multistory apartment building under construction.

New Tennessee Law Allows No-Cost Incentives for Affordable Housing

Local governments in the Volunteer State can now offer developers incentives like increased density, lower parking requirements, and priority permitting for affordable housing projects.

June 10, 2024 - Nooga Today

Green meadow with water running through and trees on either side in Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite Meadow Undergoing Major Restoration

Rangeland recently acquired from private owners is being restored to a more natural state thanks to a purchase by the Trust for Public Land.

1 hour ago - San Francisco Chronicle

Large black SYV driving down city street with blurred background.

GAO to Investigate How Vehicle Design Impacts Safety

A lax set of rules around vehicle size, height, and other factors is partly responsible for the alarming rise in pedestrian deaths in the United States.

2 hours ago - Streetsblog USA

Worker in yellow safety suit holding up orange SLOW sign on road

New Orleans Faces $1 Billion Shortfall for FEMA-Funded Roadwork

After years of delays, cost overruns, and deadline extensions on a FEMA-funded street repair program, New Orleans officials face a massive funding shortfall and accusations of mismanagement.

3 hours ago -

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.