The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 authorized appropriations of $10 million annually for the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) from fiscal years 2009 through 2011. Established in 1971, HAC is a nonprofit rural housing organization that aims to improve housing conditions for low-income rural residents, especially in high-need areas such as Indian country and Appalachia and among groups such as farmworkers. As part of its mission, HAC also offers technical assistance in developing affordable rural housing and capacity building to a variety of groups involved in rural housing. HAC signs agreements each year with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) detailing how it will use its appropriations. The 2008 act required GAO to report on HAC's use of appropriated funds over the last 7 years, from 2003 to 2009--a period when HAC received more than $20 million in appropriations. To respond to this mandate, our work had four objectives: to (1) describe HAC programs and activities, (2) identify the sources of HAC's funding and its use of the funds it receives, (3) discuss the results of HAC's programs and activities, and (4) determine what is known about HAC's effectiveness in assisting rural communities.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Other||1. The Executive Director of the Housing Assistance Council should take steps to develop techniques that would more reliably measure its performance by working to increase response rates to its surveys and designing the surveys to track stakeholders by category. For example, HAC should ensure that only loan product users respond to questions about the use of loan products.|
|Other||2. The Executive Director of the Housing Assistance Council should consider ways to better track long-term outcomes of its activities--for example, adding requirements to its program guidelines to track SHOP recipients and adding questions to its customer surveys that would provide information on long-term outcomes.|