Agriculture Under Secretary Announces Support for Projects to Improve Rural Housing

Weldon Freeman
District of Columbia
Release Date
Oct 18, 2012

Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager today announced the selection of recipients in 49 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico for grants to make repairs and improve housing conditions for low- and very-low-income rural residents.

"For many rural residents, maintaining a home with basic features such as indoor plumbing and safe electrical wiring is often unaffordable,” Tonsager said. “This program supports basic repairs to improve living conditions for rural residents with extremely limited incomes.”

The more than $4.4 million in funding announced today is being provided through USDA Rural Development's Housing Preservation Grant program. Funds are provided to intermediaries such as town or county governments, public agencies, federally recognized Indian Tribes, and non-profit and faith-based and community organizations. These organizations then distribute the funds to homeowners and owners of multi-family rental properties or cooperative dwellings who repair dwellings occupied by low- and very-low-income residents. Funds are not provided directly to the ultimate recipients 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 weatherize and make homes more energy efficient. Many of the USDA grants are being leveraged with funding from additional sources.

For example, the South Central Iowa Community Action Agency in Chariton, Iowa will use a grant to assist very low-income families to eliminate home health and safety hazards, increase energy conservation and reduce heating and cooling costs. In another effort, the Moapa Band of Paiutes, in Moapa, Nev., will receive support to install weather stripping and air filters in tribal members’ homes to improve air quality. Over 200 tribal members may benefit.

USDA’s Housing Preservation Grant Program has a record of helping low-income rural residents eliminate safety or health challenges. For example, South Carolina Uplift Community Outreach in Chester, S. C., received a grant in 2010 to help make repairs to the home of a resident who lives on a fixed income. When the homeowner inherited his home much of the electrical system was not working. The bathroom did not have a working sink or shower. The shower area and the kitchen had rotted floors and the home did not have central heating. Repairs included installing vinyl siding, insulation, complete kitchen and bath renovation, installation of energy efficient windows, smoke detectors, upgraded electrical rewiring, and a new energy efficient heat pump.

Funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.

President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $174 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.