The Trump administration has announced an investment of $153 million in America’s rural regions, with a particular focus on small and low-income communities.
The funds will be disseminated through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and are expected to benefit nearly two million rural Americans, the agency said in a statement on Wednesday.
Through a combination of low-interest loans and grants, which may be combined with commercial financing, the money will be used to improve critical community facilities in 23 states.
“Rural America needs safe, modern infrastructure to help residents and businesses achieve greater prosperity and have access to essential services,” USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand said.
Rural areas with no more than 20,000 residents are eligible for the program. It uses a priority point system to award funds, based on population and median household income.
Small communities with a population of 5,500 or fewer are given priority, as are low-income communities with a median household income below 80 percent of the state nonmetropolitan median household income.
“Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA continues to be a strong partner with rural communities, because we know that when rural America thrives, all of America thrives,” Brand said.
The aim is of the program is to provide affordable funding for facilities that provide essential services to rural communities. Essential community facilities that are eligible for the funding include health care facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, or assisted living facilities. Community support services like child care centers, community centers, fairgrounds, or transitional housing can also apply.
One recipient of a $735,000 loan and $172,700 grant under the current round of funding is the Monroe Family Health Center, which provides health services to some 3,500 rural residents of the community of Woodsfield, Ohio. The money will go towards the construction of a new 12,000 square-foot building to replace an accessibility-challenged, inadequately-sized facility, allowing the center to expand services and reach more residents in need.
“These investments are a big deal for the communities I represent,” said Congressman Bill Johnson (R-Marietta), in a statement. “This money will go directly towards improving public health and safety. The USDA, under the Trump Administration, continues to support rural communities that have been left behind by previous administrations.”
Congressman Fred Keller (R-Pa.) announced awards for grants for two projects in his district.
“Too often in rural communities, local officials are left to make do with inadequate resources. I am glad to see that we are bringing our rural communities into the fold and investing in critical projects that will improve the standard of living in these areas,” Keller said in a statement.
A fact sheet shows that 94 projects received funding under this round of the program (pdf).