U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Sec. Tom Vilsack announced at the end of last week that the Department is investing $86 million to improve equitable access to jobs, business opportunities, education, housing and health care for people who live and work in rural areas.
“The investments are part of the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to ensure that people living in rural communities have equitable access to the infrastructure and opportunities often taken for granted by people living in urban and suburban areas,” the USDA noted on Thursday night. “Today’s announcements build on the historic investments made possible by the American Rescue Plan Act signed into law by President Biden to ensure equity during a time when people living in underserved places are suffering the most. These investments will go a long way toward helping America ‘Build Back Better’ toward a just and more equitable society.”
Vilsack highlighted 218 investments that USDA is making in six programs specifically designed to help people and businesses in rural areas. These programs include Tribal College Initiative Grants, Rural Community Development Initiative Grants, Housing Preservation Grants, Delta Health Care Grants, Socially Disadvantaged Groups Grants and Water and Waste Disposal Grants.
The funding will help more than 425,000 people in 46 states, Puerto Rico and the Western Pacific. It reflects the many ways USDA Rural Development helps rural residents, businesses and communities address economic development, infrastructure and social service needs.
“The housing preservation grants by Rural Development will provide grants to low-income Florida citizens for the repair and rehabilitation of their home”, said Acting State Director Jason Brower for Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In rural Florida, receiving a Housing Preservation Grant is Central Florida’s Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter receiving a $351,135 grant to help 42 low- and very-low-income Florida citizens make health and safety repairs to their homes. These investments will support healthier and happier lives for all 42 homeowners.
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.