USDA Invests $86 Million to Improve Equitable Access to Jobs, Business Opportunities, Education, Health Care and Housing for Rural People


Investments Will Help More Than 425,000 People in Some of the Nation’s Most Disadvantaged Areas

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Nov. 18, 2021 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced 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.

“Regardless of where they live, their race, ethnicity or gender, or the size of the town in which they live, all people must have access to decent housing, clean water and good job opportunities,” Vilsack said. “This is foundational to a healthy society and stable communities. 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.”

Background:

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 Grantsand 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. It will help low-income people make health and safety repairs to their homes. It will help build and improve water and wastewater infrastructure for people living in U.S. communities along the Mexico border. It will help rural business owners in the Mississippi Delta get access to capital and business development assistance. It also will help colleges that serve Tribal populations upgrade campus buildings and services.

In Tennessee:

  • The Knoxville Leadership Foundation is receiving a $250,000 Rural Community Development Initiative grant to provide technical assistance to ten rural recipients for capacity building to fight substance abuse in East Tennessee. This assistance will enable the recipients to strengthen their ability to understand and address substance use disorder and issues related to COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to addressing capacity-building. The project will benefit the approximately 86,500 residents within the service area of the ten rural recipients located in Greeneville, Sevierville, Seymour, Morristown, Rutledge, Wartburg, Greenback, Oneida and Chuckey, Tenn.
  • Appalachia Service Project Inc. is receiving a $180,000 Housing Preservation Grant to help 24 qualified very-low and low income homeowners make needed repairs or improvements to their existing homes in Carter, Cocke, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington Counties.
  • Mountain T.O.P. Inc is receiving a $75,000 Housing Preservation Grant to help ten qualified very-low and low income homeowners make needed repairs or improvements to their existing homes in Grundy County.
  • Loudon County Habitat for Humanity is receiving a $103,500 Housing Preservation Grant to help ten qualified very-low and low income homeowners make needed repairs or improvements to their existing homes in Loudon County.
  • Aid to Distressed Families of Appalachian Counties Inc. is receiving a $75,000 Housing Preservation Grant to help three qualified very-low and low income homeowners make needed repairs or improvements to their existing homes in Anderson County.
  • University of Tennessee is receiving a $547,293 Delta Health Care Grant to purchase equipment and to administer technical assistance for UT Martin through the De-escalation Techniques and Emergency Response (DETER) program. DETER will educate law enforcement officers, community leaders and other stakeholders within the Delta Region. It will provide training and education through the classroom and virtual simulation to enhance positive community-police relationships, which will result in improved public health outcomes in the rural area.
  • Dyersburg State Community College is receiving a $339,878 Delta Health Care Grant to provide funds for the renovation of a surgical lab space for the college’s degree program in surgical technology. The purpose of this project is to strengthen the capacity and responsiveness of the college to meet the needs of local and regional health care providers through a skilled workforce. The project will also serve delta residents by meeting the need for surgical technologist in rural hospitals and out-patient surgery centers.

The 218 awards Secretary Vilsack announced today are being made in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the Western Pacific.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, 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. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov. USDA Rural Development is prioritizing projects that will support key priorities under the Biden-Harris Administration to help rural America build back better and stronger. Key priorities include combatting the COVID-19 pandemic; addressing the impacts of climate change; and advancing equity in rural America. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/priority-points. If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.



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