Washington D.C., Aug 14, 2013 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today the availability of nearly $40 million to provide housing for farmworkers and their families. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (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.
“Historically, farm laborers, and especially migrant farmworkers, have had to cope with unsafe, inadequate housing in addition to performing difficult, manual labor each day," said Vilsack. "USDA's Farm Labor Housing Program is the only national source of construction funds to buy, build or improve housing for these farmworkers who do so much to support American agriculture."
Under the Farm Labor Housing Program, loans and grants are provided to farmers, farmers associations, family farm corporations, Indian tribes, nonprofit organizations, public agencies, and farmworkers associations to develop or improve multi-family housing facilities for farmworkers and their families.
For example, USDA provided Bienestar, a nonprofit organization in Hillsboro, Oregon, a $2.4 million grant and $570,000 loan to construct a 24-unit farmworker apartment complex in Forest Grove, Oregon. The complex opened in December 2012. In addition to providing new, modern two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments for residents, the facility also provides services such as English-as-a-second-language tutoring, and classes on computers, financial literacy, nutrition, and more.
Approximately $30 million in loans, $8.5 million in grants, and $951,000 in rental assistance is available through today's announcement. Applications for Farm Labor Housing assistance are due by September 13, 2013. More information about how to apply is available in the August 14, 2013 Federal Register announcement, or by contacting any USDA Rural Development state office. In Georgia, contact (706) 546-2164.
Since 2009, the Obama Administration has provided more than $137 million in Farm Labor Housing assistance to construct or renovate 2,165 apartment units for farmworkers and their families.
Secretary Vilsack said that today's announcement is another reminder of the importance of USDA programs such as Farm Labor Housing loans and grants for rural America. A comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy, Vilsack added, saying that's just one reason why Congress must get a comprehensive Bill done as soon as possible.
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.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).