USDA Announces $150 Million to Help Rural Communities Affected by Natural Disasters

September 11, 2019

USDA announced this week that it is making $150 million in grants available through the Community Facilities Program to help designated rural communities continue their recovery from the devastating effects of hurricanes, fires, and other natural disasters. The grant program provides funding to develop essential community facilities in rural areas. An essential community facility is defined as a facility that provides an essential service to the local community for the orderly development of the community in a primarily rural area, and does not include private, commercial or business undertakings. As part of this program there are also low interest direct loans available, or there can be a combination of the low interest direct loans and grant funding.

Who is eligible to apply for this program?

Public bodies, community-based non-profit corporations and federally-recognized American Indian Tribes can apply for the program. 

What is an eligible area?

Rural areas including cities, villages, townships and towns including Federally Recognized Tribal Lands with no more than 20,000 residents according to the latest U.S. Census Data are eligible for this program.

How may funds be used?

Funds can be used to purchase, construct, and / or improve essential community facilities, purchase equipment and pay related project expenses. Examples of essential community facilities include: health care facilities, such as hospitals, medical clinics, dental clinics, nursing homes or assisted living facilities; public facilities such as town halls, courthouses, airport hangars or street improvements; community support services such as child care centers, community centers, fairgrounds or transitional housing; public safety services such as fire departments, police stations, prisons, police vehicles, fire trucks, public works vehicles or equipment; educational services such as museums, libraries or private schools; utility services such as telemedicine or distance learning equipment; local food systems such as community gardens, food pantries, community kitchens, food banks, food hubs or greenhouses.

What are the terms of the grant program?

Funding is provided through a competitive process. For grant approval:

1. Applicants must be eligible for grant assistance, which is provided on a graduated scale with smaller communities with the lowest median household income being eligible for projects with a higher proportion of grant funds. Grant assistance is limited to the following percentages of eligible project costs: Maximum of 75 percent when the proposed project is:

  • Located in a rural community having a population of 5,000 or fewer; and
  • The median household income of the proposed service area is below the higher of the poverty line or 60 percent of the State nonmetropolitan median household income.

2. Maximum of 55 percent when the proposed project is:

  • Located in a rural community having a population of 12,000 or fewer; and
  • The median household income of the proposed service area is below the higher of the poverty line or 70 percent of the State nonmetropolitan median household income.

3. Maximum of 35 percent when the proposed project is:

  • Located in a rural community having a population of 20,000 or fewer; and
  • The median household income of the proposed service area is below the higher of the poverty line or 80 percent of the State nonmetropolitan median household income.

4. Maximum of 15 percent when the proposed project is:

  • Located in a rural community having a population of 20,000 or fewer; and
  • The median household income of the proposed service area is below the higher of the poverty line or 90 percent of the State nonmetropolitan median household income. The proposed project must meet both percentage criteria. Grants are further limited.
  • Grant funds must be available

When is the grant application due?

Grant applications will be accepted at the USDA state offices on a continual basis until funds are exhausted.

Morrison works extensively with USDA Rural Development Grants as well as other grant programs nationwide providing strategic grant planning services and preparation of grant proposals for federal and state funding opportunities. For more information on this grant or how to apply with Morrison’s assistance, please contact the Morrison Grants Team by email at grants@morrisonco.net or by phone at 530-893-4764.

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