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San Juan, Puerto Rico- Jan. 20, 2022 – USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small today highlighted the Biden-Harris Administration’s first-year accomplishments to help ensure that rural residents and businesses have equitable access to housing, health care, economic development and other essential services.
“USDA Rural Development has worked hand-in-hand with rural communities to Build Back Better and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Torres Small said. “Rural Americans are too often overlooked, and the diversity of rural America has long been ignored and marginalized. When rural Americans, regardless of gender, ethnicity, race, zip code or economic status, have clean water, affordable homes, and good jobs, all of America is more likely to succeed.”
Rural Development awarded more than $2 billion in loans, grants and loan guarantees in Fiscal Year 2021 for underserved communities and rural communities that have experienced persistent generational poverty. This includes $1.3 billion for electric infrastructure to utilities that serve communities of persistent poverty, $350 million for the purchase of homes by very-low-income individuals and families living in persistent poverty areas, $48 million to improve water and waste disposal systems in Native American communities, and $9 million to improve community facilities and access to essential services for people living in Appalachian communities.
Luis R. García, Acting State Director for USDA Rural Development in Puerto Rico indicated that Puerto Rico, received $391,921,767 in this period. These are some of the investments:
- The Rural Housing Program awarded $326,822,502 to 2,706 families to purchase their first homes.
- The Community Facilities Program awarded grants to the municipalities of Juncos and Lajas for their landfill ($23,693,000 & $17,300,000) for damage caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
- In the Water & Waste Program, a low interest loan was awarded to the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority of $20,900,000 and $296,000 grants was awarded to 6 community’s aqueducts.
- In the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program, grants were awarded in the amount of $1,046,333 to Las Américas Clinic, Sor Isolina Center and Ana G. Mendez University.
- In the Community Facilities Program, low interest loans were granted to the municipalities of Dorado $769,495 and Toa Baja $ 3,400,000 for the purchase of security equipment.
- In the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) $500,457 was awarded to seven business owners so they could lower their operation costs.
- $ 610,956 was awarded to Non-Profit Entities to provide technical assistance to merchants and community leaders in the municipalities of Aguas Buenas, Barceloneta, Cidra, Naguabo and Vega Baja.
Rural Development offers several other types of assistance to groups that have historically had difficulty accessing financial and business markets and economic development assistance. For example:
- The Socially Disadvantaged Groups Grant Program provides technical assistance to socially-disadvantaged groups through cooperatives and Cooperative Development Centers. USDA provides funding through the Tribal College Initiative Grant Program to 1994 Land Grant Institutions (Tribal Colleges) to help them make capital improvements to their educational facilities and to purchase equipment.
- Last fall, USDA invested $86 million in loans and grants through 218 projects to help support rural businesses and to invest in equity-building projects in rural communities. This included support to improve facilities and equipment at tribal colleges, to help improve housing for low-income rural residents, and to help local groups implement economic development projects.
- Also in 2021, USDA began offering priority points to projects that advance key priorities under the Biden-Harris Administration to help communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, advance equity and combat climate change. These extra points will increase the likelihood of funding for projects seeking to address these critical challenges in rural America.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean-energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov. If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.
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