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USDA Announces $40 Million in Funding Nationwide to Provide Housing for Farmworkers

Jill Rees
Release Date

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today the availability of nearly $40 million to provide housing for farmworkers and their families. Despite budget uncertainties, USDA remains focused on strengthening the rural economy.

“USDA's Farm Labor Housing Program is the only national source of construction funds to buy, build, or improve housing for these farmworkers who do so much to support American agriculture,” said Vilsack.

Under the Farm Labor Housing Program, loans and grants are provided to farmers, farmer associations, family farm corporations, Indian tribes, nonprofit organizations, public agencies, and farmworker associations to develop or improve multi-family housing facilities for farmworkers and their families.

“Through these loans and grants, USDA is helping rural communities build much needed affordable housing for farmworkers who, historically, have had to cope with unsafe, inadequate housing,” said Oregon State Director Vicki Walker. “Reliable farmworker housing supports the productivity of American agriculture while providing a solid foundation from which families can thrive and make positive contributions to their communities.”

For example, USDA provided Bienestar, a nonprofit organization in Hillsboro, Oregon, a grant and loan to construct a 24-unit farmworker apartment complex in Forest Grove, Oregon. The complex opened in December 2012. In addition to providing new, modern two-, three-, and four-bedroom apartments for residents, the facility also provides services such as English as a Second Language tutoring and classes on computers, financial literacy, and nutrition.

Today's announcement makes available approximately $30 million in loans, $8.5 million in grants, and $951,000 in rental assistance. Applications for Farm Labor Housing assistance in Oregon are due to the USDA Rural Development Oregon State Office by close of business on September 13, 2013, and should be submitted to:
          USDA Rural Development
          Attn: Multi-Family Housing
          1201 NE Lloyd Blvd, Suite 801
          Portland, OR 97232-1274

More information about how to apply is available in the August 14, 2013, Federal Register: www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-08-14/html/2013-19774.htm.

Secretary Vilsack said the nearly $40 million in grants and loans is another reminder of the importance of USDA programs for rural America. Since 2009, the Obama Administration has provided more than $137 million in Farm Labor Housing assistance to construct or renovate 2,165 apartment units for farmworkers and their families.

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 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, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers, and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as the Department implements sequestration—the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act.

USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $828 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.