This week the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy held a hearing on "USDA Rural Development Programs and their Economic Impact Across America." NAR sent a letter to the Subcommittee stressing the importance of rural housing programs, and urging them to make them more accessible. Specifically, NAR asked them to support Senate passage of H.R. 3700, the "Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act", which passed the House by a vote of 427-0 in February. This legislation includes a provision to provide permanent authority for the Rural Housing Service (RHS) to use approved lenders as delegated underwriters. Today lenders can underwrite RHS guaranteed loans, but each loan then must go through an official at RHS for final approval. Both FHA and VA use delegated underwriters. Providing RHS with that authority will streamline processing of these loans and should expedite the process. NAR also expressed concern that RHS is expected to expend all approved funds for the RHS Direct Loan program by this summer. This will leave many qualified low income buyers unable to purchase a home.