Federal housing assistance in rural America dates back to the 1930s, when most rural residents worked on farms. Without electricity, telephone service, or good roads connecting residents to population centers, residents were comparatively isolated and their access to credit was generally poor. These conditions led Congress to authorize separate housing assistance for rural residents, to be administered by USDA. Over time, the quality of the housing stock has improved and credit has become more readily available in rural areas. Also, advances in transportation, computer technology, and telecommunications have diminished many of the distinctions between rural and urban areas. These changes call into question whether rural housing programs still need to be maintained separately from urban housing programs, and whether RHS is adapting to change and managing its resources as efficiently as possible.
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