Oklahoma Benefits from USDA InvestmentThu, 18 Nov 2021 13:38:40 CST
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.”
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 Grants and 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.
Projects that will benefit rural Oklahoma include:
• Rebuilding Together, Inc. is receiving a $112,701 Rural Community Development Grant to develop the capacity of ten rural non-profit community-based housing organizations across the country. In Oklahoma Rebuilding Together Kiamichi County will receive technical assistance, training, and financial assistance. This investment will strengthen their capacity to assist their local communities with projects related to housing, community facilities, and community and economic development.
• Northeast Oklahoma Regional Alliance, Inc. is receiving a $125,000 Rural Community Development Initiative Grant to provide technical assistance to rural recipients to develop their capacity and ability to undertake projects related to community and economic development. The training will be provided to six municipal recipients representing three rural communities over a three-year period in the Northeast Oklahoma Regional Alliance's service area. The comprehensive training will be delivered in workshop style settings and aimed at building a stronger economy and providing this area with a greater quality of life.
• City of Thomas is receiving a $116,450 Housing Preservation Grant to complete health and safety repairs, specifically those related to roofing, foundation, window, and siding issues, to homes within the municipal boundaries of Thomas, Oklahoma. The city will select low and very low-income applicants and their homes to renovate so these homes will be safe and livable again. The project will allow the community of Thomas to assist 12 households with the repairs.
• Little Dixie Community Action Agency, Inc. is receiving a $116,450 Housing Preservation Grant to complete housing repairs for low and very low-income homeowners. The repairs will be completed on substandard homes to meet safety, accessibility, and energy efficiency housing standards. This project will benefit five eligible households in Choctaw, McCurtain, and/or Pushmataha Counties in Oklahoma.
• College of the Muscogee Nation is receiving a $175,448 Tribal College Initiative Grant to purchase furniture and equipment for the new educational facility and exhibit hall on their campus in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. This 1994 tribal land-grant institution provides higher education courses toward an Associate Degree and/or Certificates. The college has 673 staff members and students, primarily Native American, that reside within an eight-county region of central Oklahoma. This project will enhance educational opportunities and increase capabilities of their learning platforms, with additional office space, classrooms, lab workspace and exhibit/lecture hall.
The Tribal College Initiative Grant announcement coincides with Native American Heritage Month, which is celebrated every November to highlight the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, contributions and histories of Native people. It helps raise awareness about the unique challenges Native people face, and the ways in which Tribal citizens have worked to conquer these challenges.
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