USDA Rural Development State Director for Hawaii and the Western Pacific Chris Kanazawa announced today nearly $47 million invested in the Western Pacific during fiscal year 2014. Funds were targeted towards first-time homeownership, home repair and rehabilitation, community facilities, business assistance and investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The Western Pacific includes Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau.
"These funds demonstrate the Obama Administration's unyielding efforts to improve the quality of life for rural residents by ensuring that rural communities benefit from quality housing and public facilities" said Kanazawa. "USDA is committed to helping the Western Pacific access the resources needed to implement strategies that will invigorate the economy, reduce poverty and enhance the quality of life in the Western Pacific for years to come."
Rural Development’s investment include $26.8 million in community facilities; over $17.6 million in housing funds that helped to assist 102 very-low to moderate-income families become first-time homeowners; $837,429 in loans and grants to assist 105 very-low income families with essential home repairs and renovations; $688,320 in support of businesses and economic development, and $1 million in a grant for a high energy cost area.
“Rural Development works with island partners to address the urgent needs of local residents in rural communities and helps safeguard critical community assets while raising the standard of living for rural residents,” said Gary Bloom, USDA Rural Development Area Director for the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). "For example, a $41,250 grant to Lukop Elementary School in Pohnpei was leveraged with a grant from the Australia Agency for International Development to construct a perimeter/security fence for the school."
"Rural Development will continue our mission of creating economic opportunity and improving the quality of life for the Western Pacific - one homeowner, one small business, and one rural community at a time,” said Joseph Diego, Area Director for Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Republic of Palau and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
USDA Rural Development investments in the Western Pacific were made available through Single Family Housing Direct and Guaranteed loan programs, Single Family Housing Repair program, Community Facilities program, Business & Industry Guaranteed Loan program, Rural Energy for America Program, Rural Business Enterprise Grant, Value-Added Producer Grant, and the Extremely High Energy Cost Grant program.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.