On International Overdose Awareness Day, Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett announced that USDA has formalized an innovative agreement in which a nonprofit organization will purchase homes from the Department and convert them to transitional housing for people recovering from opioid misuse.
“From quality of life to workforce and economic opportunity, the opioid crisis is impacting rural prosperity in communities across our country,” Hazlett said. “Under the leadership of President Trump, we are committed at USDA to building innovative partnerships and driving greater collaboration of rural partners to address this crisis at the local level.”
USDA Rural Development’s partnership with Isaiah House will allow the organization to purchase and rehabilitate two USDA-owned homes in Kentucky’s Hart and Rockcastle counties and convert them to transitional housing for individuals and their families. This agreement is the first in an initiative that enables the Department to sell vacant, foreclosed homes at a discount to provide housing, treatment, job training and other key services for people in drug treatment and recovery.
Isaiah House provides residential and outpatient treatment services. Its holistic approach incorporates job skills training to ensure clients have the necessary skills to obtain employment and successfully re-enter the workforce. Individuals in recovery help rehabilitate the properties. Graduates of the long-term recovery program oversee the job skills training program and are guaranteed full-time employment.
Misuse of prescription opioids is a major public health challenge facing rural communities in Kentucky and across the nation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified 54 Kentucky counties that are at risk for outbreaks of HIV and/or hepatitis C because of the opioid epidemic. There were 1,565 overdose fatalities in Kentucky in 2017. The highest number of deaths occurred among people between age 35 and 44.
For a rural community or county already struggling to attract new businesses – or maintain existing ones – the impact of opioid misuse on the quality of life and economic prosperity can be enormous. CDC reported in October 2017 that death rates from drug overdoses in rural areas have now surpassed drug overdose death rates in urban areas.
In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity, led by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.
To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.