Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced a series of initiatives that will help fill the need for transitional housing for people recovering from opioid addiction. The initiatives include encouraging the use of USDA Community Facilities financing for transitional housing projects, making vacant USDA housing properties available for sale to qualified non-profits operating transitional housing, the launch of a pilot project which will make vacant USDA multifamily rental units available to tenants participating in treatment programs, and the release of a suite of data on challenges to recovery, treatment facilities, and more.
“The journey from addiction to recovery requires understanding, treatment, and support,” said Vilsack. “But too often that journey is not completed without safe, affordable housing options for those on their way back to being healthy, contributing members of our communities. Opioid addiction is hitting rural America especially hard and there are few options for transitional housing. Today’s actions will lead to more options for those in recovery.”
“USDA Rural Development is pleased to assist those in recovery from opioid addiction with transitional housing,” said Paco Valentin, USDA Rural Development State Director. “These initiatives will provide safe, affordable housing solutions for rural residents to shift to an independent living situation.”
In the first of the transitional housing initiatives announced today, USDA’s Rural Housing Service is instructing its field staff that Community Facilities program financing is eligible for construction, expansion and improvement of a transitional housing facility. Eligible projects must provide essential supportive services to rural residents for no more than two years to help them recover and live independently.
The second initiative announced today encourages the sale of USDA’s Real Estate Owned (REO) single-family homes and multi-family property REOs to qualified non-profit organizations that would convert them to transitional housing. REO properties are owned by USDA as a result of foreclosure. The single-family REO initiative is effective in 22 states where the REOs are managed by that state’s Rural Development office.
The third initiative is a pilot program to provide incentives to owners of USDA multi-family rental housing properties who rent units to participants of drug court programs. Drug courts have been proven to successfully reduce substance dependence and reduce criminal recidivism, and require participants to fulfill court mandated treatment and recovery requirements. The pilot would make hard-to-fill unsubsidized vacant units eligible for rental assistance if occupied by a current participant of a drug court. The pilot program is open to facilities in New Hampshire, Vermont, Nevada and Missouri.
Finally, USDA’s Rural Housing Service is releasing data on its portfolio of Community Facilities loans, guarantees, and grants across the country, which include hospitals, health clinics, group homes, and mental and behavioral health treatment facilities that provide essential services to rural Americans. This data will be uploaded to PolicyMap, an online data mapping platform, where it can be visually overlaid with other indicators on substance abuse and recovery.
More information on Rural Development programs can be found at http://www.rd.usda.gov/tx.