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. This has been achieved through a pilot program run by the Department and aimed to provide transitional housing solutions in communities affected by the opioid epidemic.
“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, a Kentucky nonprofit, will allow the organization to purchase and rehabilitate two USDA-owned homes 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.
This type of partnership may be replicated in other states where nonprofits have similar needs. In Manti, Utah, a roundtable discussion was recently held in partnership with USDA during which participants identified transitional housing as a need for communities in Sanpete County.
“Our rural communities are very engaged in fighting this epidemic,” said Randy Parker, USDA Rural Development State Director in Utah. “We at USDA see this partnership opportunity as a potential solution to one of the very specific problems faced when tackling addiction recovery in rural areas.”
There were 635 drug-related fatalities in Utah in 2016 with rural counties including Carbon and Duchesne Counties exceeding the state average for opioid-related deaths. The most recent Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports show that number is decreasing within the state, while nationwide numbers of drug-related deaths continue to climb.
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.
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/ut.