“The Obama Administration believes that strong rural communities are a key to a stronger America. Through this program, USDA is offering financial assistance to expand the availability of safe, affordable rental housing for farmworkers,” Vilsack said. “The Department’s support for rural rental housing not only helps creates jobs and related employment when new units are constructed, it also does so through the rehabilitation of existing ones.”
Upon hearing about the announcement on the farm worker housing program, USDA Rural Development State Director Terry Brunner said, “This is such an important program because in the long run by providing safe, decent housing to our farm workers we are actually strengthening our country’s economy because we have created a better living condition for those that work by harvesting the food we eat.”
Through the Rural Housing Service, USDA plans to award loans and grants to increase the supply of available rental housing for domestic farm laborers. The housing is intended for any domestic farm laborer who receives a substantial portion of his/her income from the primary production of processed or unprocessed agricultural or aquacultural commodities. It must be operated on a non-profit basis. Groups eligible for the loans and grants include housing authorities, state and local governments, Indian tribes, non-profit organizations, and community- and faith-based groups.
Entities that construct new, off-farm housing for farm workers may be eligible for operating or rental assistance in addition to construction/rehabilitation loans and grants. Under the rental assistance program, USDA Rural Development pays the owner of a housing complex the difference between the tenant’s contribution (30 percent of his or her adjusted income) and the monthly rental rate.
Priority will be given to applicants seeking funds for housing projects that are energy efficient and generate energy – such as through geo-exchange systems, wind turbines and photovoltaic systems. In addition, points and consideration will be given for property management green certifications from a variety of credentialing entities.
The application process will be in two phases: the initial pre-application (or proposal) and the submission of a final application. Only those pre-applications or proposals that are selected for further processing will be invited to submit final applications.
For additional information, see page 42258 of the July 18, Federal Register, http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-07-18/pdf/2012-17462.pdf. The deadline for submitting pre-applications is Sept. 17.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has an active portfolio of more than $170 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.