May 23 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced a series of immediate steps the department is taking to help homeowners affected by recent tornadoes in Oklahoma.
"We extend our thoughts and prayers to everyone who has been affected," Vilsack said. "I have instructed all USDA offices in the disaster area as well as other offices throughout Oklahoma to do whatever they can to ensure that residents get the help they need to recover from this devastating event as quickly as possible."
USDA staff will provide to the Federal Emergency Management Agency an inventory of unoccupied multi-family housing rental units. USDA Rural Development has also notified lenders who guarantee USDA housing loans that they may offer a moratorium on mortgage payments to borrowers in the disaster area. If you have questions about your USDA mortgage, please call USDA's Centralized Servicing Center at 800-414-1226.
Additionally, residents left homeless by the tornadoes may be given priority to be placed in available USDA multi-family housing units. Owners of rental housing complexes financed by USDA may be allowed to waive certain age and income eligibility rules to provide housing for residents affected by the tornadoes.
USDA will give FEMA a list of foreclosed properties in the Department's inventory. Under an existing memorandum of understanding, FEMA may offer these properties for temporary housing. For emergency assistance with immediate housing needs contact FEMA.
USDA Rural Development staff will assess damages when local authorities grant access to the affected areas. Staff will then determine how USDA programs can assist in longer-term recovery and rebuilding efforts.
For more information on efforts being made by USDA to assist those affected by the tornadoes, click here.