[Federal Register Volume 62, Number 228 (Wednesday, November 26, 1997)]
[Pages 63068-63069]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 97-31079]



Economic Research Service

Notice of Intent To Seek Approval to Collect Information

AGENCY: Economic Research Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice and request for comments.


SUMMARY: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (Pub.L. 
No. 104-13) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regulations at 5 
CFR part 1320 (60 FR 44978, August 29, 1995), this notice announces the 
Economic Research Service's (ERS) intention to request approval for a 
new information collection on the demographic and economic 
characteristics of participants in USDA's Single Family Direct Loan 
Rural Housing Program in order to better understand how this program 
helps provide adequate and affordable housing for rural residents.

DATES: Comments on this notice must be received by January 30, 1998 to 
be assured of consideration.

Whitener, Food Assistance, Poverty, and Well-Being Branch, Food and 
Rural Economics Division, Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of 
Agriculture, 1800 M. St., NW, Washington, D.C. 20036-5801, 202-694-


    Title: Application for ERS collection of information on 
participants in USDA's Single Family Direct Loan Rural Housing Program.
    Type of Request: Approval to collect information on participants in 
USDA's Single Family Direct Loan Rural Housing Program.
    Abstract: The Economic Research Service has the responsibility to 
provide social and economic intelligence on changing rural housing 
needs in the United States to help assess the relationship between 
Federal housing assistance policies and rural development. Research 
activities focus on three major objectives: (1) Identification of 
trends in rural housing availability, affordability, and adequacy which 
underlie an understanding of rural housing needs; (2) assessment of the 
use and effectiveness of Federal housing assistance programs in rural 
areas; and (3) investigation of the potential effects of Federal policy 
changes on rural housing programs and the residents they serve. Housing 
has an enormous influence on the quality of life of rural residents, 
and rural housing is an important focus of the Department's rural 
development efforts. Research findings are provided to public and 
private decision-makers for use in developing and evaluating policies 
and programs to insure that adequate and affordable housing is 
available to rural residents.
    The USDA, through its Rural Development Single Family Direct Loan 
Housing Program, has provided billions of dollars to over 600,000 low-
income rural borrowers nationwide. The Department has only sporadic and 
incomplete information on the residents that benefit from these program 
outlays and what this program means for the stock of available, 
affordable, and adequate single family housing in rural areas. The data 
collection effort proposed here will provide a unique and detailed 
information base on the characteristics of USDA's Section 502 Direct 
Loan Program participants to help (1) assess the impact of this 
housing-assistance program on rural residents and their communities and 
(2) provide a better understanding of the effects of changing Federal 
policies, such as welfare reform, on rural borrowers's participation in 
the direct loan program. The survey will collect information from USDA-
assisted borrowers to determine their demographic, employment, income, 
and housing characteristics; reliance on other public assistance 
programs; and dependence on rural housing program funds. This 
information will help to fill a serious gap in our understanding of the 
nature of housing needs in rural areas and will provide USDA and other 
policy makers with sound information to help evaluate current programs 
and develop more effective rural housing policies. ERS, working with 
Washington State University's Social and Economic Sciences Research 
Center, will conduct a telephone survey of borrowers participating in 
USDA's Section 502 Single Family Direct Loan Housing Program. Borrowers 
to be interviewed will be selected from a simple random national sample 
of recent borrowers who obtained loans during 1995, 1996, or 1997, 
taken from USDA's Rural Development administrative records. Survey data 
will be collected using Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) 
techniques, which are more efficient and less time consuming than 
traditional written interview techniques. Responses are voluntary and 
confidential. Survey data will be used with other data for statistical 
purposes and reported only in aggregate or statistical form.
    Information to be obtained from borrowers includes: characteristics 
of current and past housing; housing problems; satisfaction with 
current residence, neighborhood, and the USDA financing experience; 
demographic characteristics of household members; education and 
employment characteristics of borrowers; public assistance program 
participation; and sources and amounts of household income. No existing 
data sources, including USDA administrative data or the biennial 
American Housing Survey, are sufficiently detailed to allow an in-depth 
analysis of the relationships among these variables for participants in 
the Section 502 program. These data and the research they will support 
are vital to the Department's ability to assess the impact of its rural 
housing programs on rural residents and rural community development.
    Estimate of Burden: Public reporting burden for this data 
collection is estimated to average 20 minutes per completed interview, 
including time for listening to instructions, gathering data needed, 
and responding to questionnaire items.
    Respondents: Homeowners who obtained a loan during 1995, 1996, and 
1997 through USDA's Section 502 Single Family Direct Loan Program.
    Estimated Number of Respondents: 3,000.
    Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 1,000 hours. Copies 
of information concerning the data collection can be obtained from 
Linda Ghelfi or Leslie Whitener, Food Assistance, Poverty and Well-
Being Branch, Food and Rural Economics Division, Economic Research 
Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1800 M. St., NW, Washington, 
D.C. 20036-5801, 202-694-5420.
    Comments: Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed 
collection of information is necessary for the proper functions of the 
agency, including

[[Page 63069]]

whether the information will have practical utility; (b) the accuracy 
of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of 
information including the validity of the methodology and assumptions 
used; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the 
information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden on 
those who are to respond, such as through the use of appropriate 
automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection 
techniques. Comments may be sent to Linda Ghelfi, Food Assistance, 
Poverty and Well-Being Branch, Food and Rural Economics Division, 
Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1800 M. St., 
NW, Washington, D.C. 20036-5801. All responses to this notice will be 
summarized and included in the request for OMB approval. All comments 
will also become a matter of public record.

    Signed at Washington, D.C.
Thomas A. Carlin,
Deputy Director, Food and Rural Economics Division.
[FR Doc. 97-31079 Filed 11-25-97; 8:45 am]