Rural housing finance: One size does not fit all

By: Leslie Black-Plumeau

Unique features of rural housing require flexible national policies and financing programs, explains Executive Director Sarah Carpenter in her recent article for Rural Voices, a journal of the Housing Assistance Council.

Carpenter provides numerous examples of how the small-scale nature and sparce dispersion of the population in Vermont creates special challenges for financing owner and rental housing given recent trends toward more standardization of national mortgage finance practices. 

With innovations like VHFA programs, the VERMOD high efficiency home and Housing Vermont’s role as a statewide tax credit syndicator, Vermont has overcome some of these challenges, Carpenter acknowledges.  However, she calls on federal policy makers to provide more flexibility.  "As the world of finance continues to recover from the excesses of the last decade and struggles to provide adequate regulation to prevent repeating, national policy and financing programs must allow flexibility for states to adapt approaches to include the unique needs of small, rural markets that will best serve all residents,” she concludes.