Aug 15 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the availability of nearly $40 million to provide housing for farmworkers and their families. Despite budget uncertainties, USDA remains focused on strengthening the rural economy.
"USDA's Farm Labor Housing Program is the only national source of construction funds to buy, build or improve housing for farmworkers, who are critical to the tremendous productivity of American agriculture," said Vilsack. "This program is an important way that USDA helps to ensure the well-being of itinerant farm labor families. Looking ahead to the future, we will also continue to urge passage of common sense immigration reform that will create rules that work for farm workers and producers alike."
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, Ore., a grant and loan to construct a 24-unit farmworker apartment complex in Forest Grove, Ore. 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 and nutrition.
The announcement makes available approximately $30 million in loans, $8.5 million in grants and $951,000 in rental assistance. Applications for Farm Labor Housing assistance are due Sept. 13, 2013. More information about how to apply is available in the Aug. 14, 2013 Federal Register at www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-08-14/html/2013-19774.htm or by contacting any USDA Rural Development state office.
Vilsack said the nearly $40 million in grants and loans is another reminder of the importance of USDA programs for rural America. 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.