Washington Report

Advocacy Updates from Washington D.C.

USDA Rural In Character Guidance

On October 19, 2017, The US Department of Agriculture - Rural Development (USDA) released new guidance on how to determine if an area is Rural in Character (RIC), in anticipation of the upcoming five-year periodical rural review that determines eligibility for USDA rural development programs. The last reviews were conducted in 2012-13.

The types of areas that can qualify as RIC have either (1) a population between 2,500 and 10,000 if it is rural in character, OR (2) is an area that was previously determined to be rural and has a population between 10,000 and 35,000, meets the rest of the RIC analysis, and has a serious lack of mortgage credit for lower and moderate-income families.

In determining population density for RIC analysis, the field offices are now directed to take into account the following:

  • Economic Vitality. Whether the area’s economy faces high unemployment due to loss of a major employer or similar factors, and whether the population is shrinking due to people leaving the area.
  • Colleges and Universities. Whether the population fluctuates or is transient due to student presence from a local college or university.
  • Prison Population. For FY2017, prison populations should not be included in the population calculation. At this time, this does not apply to any other year.

USDA Update on Rural In Character Analysis

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