USDA grants available for depressed rural areas

USDA grants available for depressed rural areas USDA has announced that $19 million in grants are available to develop essential community facilities including schools, libraries, fire and rescue, public safety, hospitals, clinics, and multipurpose community centers in rural areas experiencing severe unemployment and economic depression.

Roger Hazuka, rural housing director in Huron said, "This is the second year this initiative has been offered to communities with a not-employed rate of 19.5 percent or greater. Communities in 25 South Dakota counties qualify this year, however, we have only $19 million in available funds nationwide compared to $47.5 million in FY 2001. We expect considerable competition again this year."

Interested communities will have to file completed applications with USDA no later than May 3 for first round funding consideration.

The community facilities grants are made available through USDA Rural Housing Service and are earmarked for rural communities where the "not employed" rate is greater than 19.5 percent and where feasibility is not likely without the injection of grant funds to complete the essential community facility. Rural Development offers assistance to develop essential community facilities and services for public use in rural communities with populations of less than 20,000.

Authorized by Congress, the special grant initiative is administered through USDA Rural Development's Community Facilities program. Applications will be considered competitively, with communities having the lowest populations and lowest median incomes given selection priority.

Other selection criteria include each project's economic feasibility and the program's goal of distributing funds throughout all regions of the United States.

There will be two windows of opportunity to submit applications including May 3 and Aug. 16 when applications will need to be received by USDA.

Eligible counties include: Aurora, Bennett, Bon Homme, Brule, Buffalo, Butte, Clark, Clay, Corson, Custer, Dewey, Douglas, Fall River, Faulk, Haakon, Jackson, Kingsbury, Lawrence, McCook, Mellette, Shannon, Spink, Todd, Turner and Ziebach.

Further information is available by contacting one of 10 office locations

in Aberdeen, Huron, Watertown, Mitchell, Sioux Falls, Vermillion, Yankton,

Rapid City, Pierre and Sturgis, or visit rural Development's national office Web site at: http://www.rurdev.usda. gov/rd/nofas.

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