WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2022 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small announced today that USDA is investing $102 million to expand access to housing and water infrastructure for rural people who live and work in underserved rural areas, including $624,900 to four projects in Washington State.
“These projects will expand economic opportunities and improve the lives of people living in our state,” said Helen Price Johnson, State Director for USDA Rural Development in Washington State.
The investments are part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to ensure that people living in rural America have equitable access to the infrastructure and economic opportunities they deserve.
“USDA invests in rural America because we know a strong community is rooted in its people,” Torres Small said. “Thanks to the leadership of President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, USDA can help invest in opportunity and prosperity for all people, regardless of background or financial status, who make up the character and personality of our great country’s rural lands.”
Investments that USDA is making in Washington State are specifically designed to help people and communities in underserved rural areas.
For example, under the Socially Disadvantaged Groups Grant Program:
- Northwest Agri Business Center based out of Mount Vernon will use a $174,900 grant to provide technical assistance to socially disadvantaged groups. The technical assistance will be provided for the purpose of assisting cooperatives or groups that want to form cooperatives. Strategies include cooperative development education and training, market research, product and/or service improvement, legal advice and assistance, feasibility studies, business planning, marketing plan development, and training that will support socially disadvantaged cooperatives and groups of socially disadvantaged farmers..
- The Northwest Cooperative Development Center based out of Olympia will use a $175,000 grant to advise and educate members of socially-disadvantaged groups, specifically involving cooperatives and cooperative business model development. Technical assistance will include co-op business model education, feasibility research, cost analysis, strategic and business planning, board/management/member coaching and training, capitalization planning, accounting assistance, operations development, marketing and branding, and first response. Funds will be used to ensure technical assistance is accompanied by interpreters or translations, when needed, to fully involve members of the co-ops. This project will benefit socially-disadvantaged groups who have been subjected to racial, ethnic, or gender prejudice because of their identities as members of these groups without regard to their individual and collective qualities of excellence.
Under the Housing Preservation Grant Program:
- Rebuilding Together will use a $75,000 to repair four to six owner occupied homes of very-low and low-income homeowners in Thurston County. Primary focus is to remedy home health and safety hazards; provide assessments to set a baseline for current living conditions and to determine needed repairs and improve mobility and accessibility. Funding will also be used to perform outreach to promote this program to area residents.
- The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community will use a $200,000 grant to rehabilitate 15-20 low-income owner-occupied housing units, bringing them up to the Swinomish Tribal Housing Code by the end of the 2-year project period, focusing on elder and disabled households. The long-term goal of the tribe is that all tribal members will have access to safe, affordable, healthy, and physically accessible homes on the reservation, which has the added benefit of contributing to climate resiliency in the community.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the leadership of 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.