Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that USDA is investing $29 million to provide affordable housing for farm laborers and their families.
"Housing is often the first step on the road to more economic prosperity for farmworker families," Vilsack said. "These loans and grants will significantly improve the lives of farmworkers, who are vital to America's agriculture sector. This program is one of many tools that USDA has to strengthen the rural economy, which will help bring a brighter future for children from farmworker families."
USDA is providing assistance through the Farm Labor Housing Loan and Grant program. Financing is available to qualified organizations to develop housing for domestic farm laborers. USDA also provides rental assistance to help very-low-income families afford the monthly rent.
Through today's announcement, USDA is awarding $20.7 million in loans and $8.3 million in grants for 10 projects in six states. When completed, the properties will provide 320 farmworker families with new homes. Rental assistance will be offered for 315 of the new housing units.
"I have witnessed firsthand the way these loans and grants help farmworkers and their communities," said Tony Hernandez, Administrator of USDA's Rural Housing Service, which runs the Farm Labor Housing program. Earlier this month, Hernandez toured the Sugarloaf Apartments farm labor housing complex in Hendersonville, N.C. Since the complex opened in 1995, it is usually fully occupied. Sugarloaf has two day care facilities onsite, one of which is year-round, making it a convenient place for residents to work and raise their families.
Below is a complete list of loan and grant recipients announced today. Funding is contingent upon the recipients meeting the terms of their agreements.
- Coachella Valley Villa Hermosa Phase II – $3 million loan. Funds will be used to add 68 units to the complex.
- Peoples Self Help – $3 million loan. Funds will be used to develop 33 units.
- 9355 Avenida Maria – $3 million loan. Funds will be used to develop 60 units.
- 1006 Golden Valley – $3 million loan. Funds will be used to develop 41 units.
- San Luis Valley – $1.5 million loan and $1.5 million grant. Funds will be used to develop 30 units.
- Straton Area Foundation – $750,000 loan and $1.6 million grant. Funds will be used to develop 12 units.
- Homestead Housing Authority – $2 million loan and $1 million grant. Funds will be used to develop 20 units.
- BDT Housing – $1.5 million loan and $1.1 million grant. Funds will be used to develop 20 units.
- Farmworker Housing Development Corporation – $1 million loan and $2 million grant. Funds will be used to develop 20 units.
- Grant County Housing Authority – $2 million loan and $1 million grant. Funds will be used to develop 16 units.
USDA Rural Development provided a $3.3 million low-interest Farm Labor Housing loan to build Villa Hermosa – apartment-style housing for migrant workers in Indio, Calif. Construction began in 2012. The complex is adjacent to the Fred Young Labor Camp, which began in the late 1930s as one-room, dirt-floor wooden shacks. It was converted in the 1960s to small, cinder-block apartments without heat or air conditioning.
The $3 million loan USDA announced today will finance a second phase of construction at Villa Hermosa. It will finance 68 more apartments for the remaining occupants at the nearby Fred Young facility. Phase Two will have spacious units with heat and air conditioning, private patios, washer/dryers, dishwashers, a community center, a garden, playgrounds and a computer lab. For some residents, this will be their first home with carpets.
President Obama's historic investments in rural America have made our rural communities stronger. Under his 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.