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USDA ANNOUNCES FUNDING TO IMPROVE RURAL HOUSING
Source: USDA news release

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that recipients in 45 states, the Western Pacific and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico will receive grants to make housing repairs and improve housing conditions for limited income rural residents. Acting Under Secretary for Rural Development Doug O'Brien announced the selections on Secretary Vilsack's behalf.

"Providing safe, reliable housing to rural residents is key to maintaining stable communities and creating jobs," O'Brien said. "USDA has developed strategic partnerships with Tribes, community organizations and non-profit groups to improve the living conditions for thousands of rural residents."

Funding is being provided through USDA Rural Development's Housing Preservation Grant program. Funds are provided to intermediaries such as local governments, public agencies, federally-recognized Indian Tribes, and non-profit, faith-based and community organizations.

These organizations then distribute the grants to homeowners and owners of multi-family rental properties or cooperative dwellings who rent to low- and very-low-income residents. Funds are not directly provided to eligible homeowners by USDA.

Grants may be used to make general repairs, such as installing or improving plumbing, or providing or enhancing access to people with disabilities. Funds may also be used to make homes more energy efficient.

Today's announcement includes a $38,860 grant to Bishop Sheen Ecumenical Housing Foundation, Inc., in Rochester, N.Y., to assist 12 very-low income households. The grant will be used to repair foundations, roofs and electrical wiring, and make energy efficiency and accessibility improvements.

Coupled with funding from Rural Development, the foundation's effort will make a significant impact in rural New York. ACTION Inc. in Athens, Ga., has been selected to receive a $30,000 Housing Preservation Grant to help very-low income and low-income elderly households make repairs.

In 2009, Neighborhood Housing Services of the Black Hills, Inc., in Western South Dakota, received a $50,000 Housing Preservation Grant to help 14 families with electrical repairs, roofing and plumbing. These 14 families now have safe, secure housing.

O'Brien said that today's announcement is another reason why Congress must get a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill passed as soon as possible. Farm Bill programs are important to the economic vitality of rural America, and a comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy, he added.

View the list of recipients for Housing Preservation Grants. Each award is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.


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