Temple, Texas, Oct 03, 2011 -- Already this year, over a million acres of Forest Service lands have burned in the American Southwest, as well as another 600,000 acres of federal, state and private lands, costing millions of dollars in immediate fire response and additional millions in restoration and rehabilitation in the months and years ahead. Nowhere is this more evident than in Texas, where residents have lost homes, businesses and livestock to numerous wildfires throughout the year.
USDA Rural Development is aware that the Central Texas Wildfires could have far-reaching effects and significant impacts on families and communities. We want to ensure that you are aware of the assistance we may be able to provide in the event these incidents have directly impacted your household. Through USDA Rural Development, assistance can be offered for rebuilding and reopening businesses and community facilities, as well as rectifying housing situations and rebuilding or repairing damaged homes.
“USDA Rural Development is committed to offering assistance to those affected by the droughts and wildfires throughout Texas,” said Rural Development State Director, Paco Valentin. “We offer programs that may reduce the impact these disasters have had on producers and families, and help those affected get back on their feet.”
Housing assistance is offered to those residents in Rural Development-financed apartment complexes who are displaced by a natural disaster. They may apply for occupancy at any USDA-financed apartment complex and receive special priority consideration for the next available unit. Displaced tenants who are receiving rental assistance may have their subsidy transferred if the complex they move to is eligible for the Rental Assistance program. Although Rural Development expects borrowers' hazard insurance to cover damage costs associated with the disaster, we can consider temporary measures to reduce borrowers' financial burdens and work with them, if needed, to develop a servicing workout plan. Rural Development is committed to assisting our customers during this very challenging time. You may contact a Loan Counselor at 1-800-793-8861 or 1-800-438-1832 (TDD/TTY Hearing Impaired Only). Counselors are available from 7:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M., CST, Monday through Thursday;
7:00 A.M.to 5:00 P.M. on Friday and 7:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. on Saturday. To expedite your request, please have your account number and Social Security Number available when you call.
Rural Development’s Community Facilities Program has many options available to assist communities with public safety, health care and other essential community facilities improvements. Specific to assistance after wildfires, funding is available to qualified applicants to assist with the purchase of new firefighting vehicles and equipment. Funds can also be used for the construction of new fire stations and emergency operations/evacuation centers. In addition, funding is available through the Rural Utilities Service for applicants to apply for loans and grants to repair or construct new water transmission/distribution systems, or to construct new water storage facilities. Funding is also available to repair or construct new wastewater collection systems and/or wastewater treatment facilities.
Rural Development also offers the B&I Guaranteed Loan Program to improve, develop, or finance business, industry, and employment and improve the economic and environmental climate in rural communities. This purpose is achieved by bolstering the existing private credit structure through the guarantee of quality loans which will provide lasting community benefits.
A borrower may be a cooperative organization, corporation, partnership, or other legal entity organized and operated on a profit or nonprofit basis; an Indian tribe on a Federal or State reservation or other federally recognized tribal group; a public body; or an individual. A borrower must be engaged in or proposing to engage in a business that will provide employment, improve the economic or environmental climate. B&I loans are normally available in rural areas, which include all areas other than cities or towns of more than 50,000 people and the contiguous and adjacent urbanized area of such cities or towns.
Information, applications and contacts regarding all Rural Development programs and assistance available in Texas can be found at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/TXHome.html.