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As Congress and presidential candidates trade accusations over immigration reform, advocates and experts urge caution in spreading misinformation; Alabama takes new action IVF policy following controversial court decision; and central states urge caution with wildfires brewing.

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Congress reaches a deal to avoid a partial government shutdown again. Arizona Republicans want to ensure Trump remains on their state ballot and Senate Democrats reintroduce the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

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Hard times could be ahead for rural school districts that spent federal pandemic money on teacher salaries, a former Oregon lumber community drafts a climate-action plan and West Virginians may soon buy raw milk from squeaky-clean cows.

Local Governments Work to Address West Virginia’s Housing Crisis

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Thursday, April 27, 2023   

In Parkersburg, West Virginia local government officials have an innovative plan to address the region's housing crisis - getting 50 families into better housing within 50 weeks.

Aging communities in rural areas are losing younger residents, and older residents tend to own their homes - around 70% in Wood County.

That's left a gap in available quality rental housing, said Parkersburg City Council Member Wendy Tuck - which shrinks access to subsidized housing units and pushes more families into homelessness.

She said the town's recent workshops to address housing needs have drawn more than two hundred concerned residents.

"From homeless vets to a contractor that wants to build to 24 unit apartment," said Tuck. "So I would say it was pretty successful. And we're already up to about 30 homes or people situations that have been improved."

A West Virginia Housing Development Fund report from 2019 already confirmed that many renters in Wood County living in old, substandard, and unaffordable housing. More than 250 units lacked complete indoor plumbing or kitchens.

Tuck added that while the city does have housing resources, including a program offering grants up to $15,000 toward a home-buying downpayment, many residents either aren't aware of the help or get discouraged right at the beginning.

"Not everybody's gonna qualify for that," said Tuck. "And what we've seen happen is people will apply, and they get no, you don't qualify for a loan, and then that just slams the door. Well, by working with some of our local realtors and credit unions and banks, we're able to partner so that it doesn't become a no, it becomes build up your credit score first."

This week the National Rural Housing Coalition and other groups sent a letter to Congress calling for increased federal funding for rural housing and water-sewer programs.

Federal rural housing programs support around a half million units of affordable rental housing nationwide.





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