Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is accepting applications for grants to help low- and very-low-income rural residents repair their homes. USDA remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today's announcement is one part of the Department's efforts to strengthen the rural economy.
"The Obama Administration and USDA are working to ensure that rural homeowners and renters have safe, affordable and sanitary places to live," Vilsack said. "These grant funds will help low- and very-low-income residents in our rural communities maintain and repair their homes and make them more energy-efficient."
Grants are provided to qualified intermediaries such as town or county governments, public agencies, community organizations, federally recognized Indian Tribes, non-profit and faith-based organizations. The grants are then distributed to qualified homeowners or owners of multi-family rental properties or cooperative dwellings who rent to low- and very-low-income residents. The grants can be used to weatherize and repair existing structures, install or improve plumbing or provide access to people with disabilities. In addition, the program assists rental property owners and cooperative housing complexes in repairing and rehabilitating their units if they agree to make such units available to low- and very low-income persons.
Here is how the Housing Preservation Grant Program helped improve the housing conditions for an elderly Madison, Ind., resident living on a fixed income. Elizabeth Young received an HPG grant in addition to funds from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority and the city of Madison.
USDA's home inspection found rotted window sills, numerous leaks, obsolete electrical wiring and other items in need of repair. All of these defects have been addressed, thanks to the collaboration between USDA and state and local partners. Workers installed new gutters and downspouts, repaired and/or replaced vinyl siding and trim, installed new "energy star" doors, upgraded plumbing and electric systems, and made a host of other repairs. Now, Ms. Young, who has lived in her home for more than 40 years, has a safe and barrier-free home.
For additional information on eligibility for Housing Preservation Grants, please see the June 18, 2013 Federal Register.
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. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as the Department implements sequestration -- the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act.
USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $828 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.