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Category: Rural Development

A New Home for the Holidays in Michigan

 Kelseigh Weber gets a housewarming gift from Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez and USDA Rural Development Specialist Laura Leplow as Michigan State Director James Turner and Rebecca Weber look on.

Kelseigh Weber gets a housewarming gift from Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez and USDA Rural Development Specialist Laura Leplow as Michigan State Director James Turner and Rebecca Weber look on.

 Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez, Michigan State Director James Turner, and Plainwell, Michigan community members at the new City Hall sculpture.

Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez, Michigan State Director James Turner, and Plainwell, Michigan community members at the new City Hall sculpture.

During this holiday week, I couldn’t help but think of my recent visit with Ms. Rebecca Weber of St. Johns, Michigan – about twenty minutes north of our state capital of Lansing. USDA Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez and I were able to meet Ms. Weber and hear her inspiring story.

USDA Rural Development in Michigan has forged a valuable partnership with Habitat for Humanity, where USDA provides the necessary financing for these families to build their homes. Rebecca Weber is one of the shining examples of success coming from that partnership. Rebecca is a hard-working single mother who built her home this year with the help of Habitat for Humanity and USDA Rural Development. Rebecca was so dedicated to getting this home build, that when heavy rains this summer forced a six-month delay due to standing water, she enlister her mother and together they bailed out the property with five gallon buckets to get things back on schedule. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: 2014, a Year of Action, Partnership and Innovation at USDA

This has been a tremendous year for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the rural families and communities we serve. Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden recently shared a reflection on her most inspirational moments this year. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished at USDA over the course of this year, and I thought I’d take a moment to share just a few of our top accomplishments. Read more »

Rural Battery Manufacturer Gets Boost from USDA Business Program

Superior Battery used USDA support to improve efficiency and hire new workers for its battery manufacturing plant in Russell Springs, Kentucky.

Superior Battery used USDA support to improve efficiency and hire new workers for its battery manufacturing plant in Russell Springs, Kentucky.

Small business owners face countless challenges when it comes to finding success in the global marketplace – and for those in rural areas, the challenges are often more pronounced.

For more than 30 years, Superior Battery has been manufacturing a wide range of batteries from its plant in Russell Springs, Ky. The business is locally owned and operated, and was started by Randy Hart – an Air Force veteran and tool-and-die enthusiast – his wife and four nephews. Read more »

USDA and Habitat for Humanity to Build Homes and Ladders of Opportunity

USDA Rural Development Pennsylvania State Director Thomas Williams helped future homeowner Judy Aguero put the first nails into the doorway of her new home.

USDA Rural Development Pennsylvania State Director Thomas Williams helped future homeowner Judy Aguero put the first nails into the doorway of her new home.

On a blustery cold November morning, it was heartwarming to help Judy Aguero put the first nails into the doorway of her new home. Ms. Aguero, a single mom, was born in New York City and moved to Pennsylvania when she was 15 years old. When her mother was deported back to Santo Domingo, Judy lived with members of her church. By 19, she was expecting a child and living at a homeless shelter. Overcoming all odds, Judy was determined to make a better life for herself and her child. She is currently employed as a Certified Nursing Assistant and is working on an associate’s degree in social work. Through York Habitat for Humanity, she will be moving into a new three bedroom, one bath two-story duplex in the spring of 2015 with her daughter, Yudelka.

USDA Rural Development’s Pennsylvania housing staff recently met with York Habitat for Humanity (York Habitat) to partner our resources to help bring homeownership to reality for rural Pennsylvanians. York Habitat will be working as a packager to help hardworking potential homeowners like Judy complete applications for the USDA 502 Direct Home Loan Program.  Through the program, direct homeownership loans are available to lower income individuals and families. Payments are based on income, with no down payment required. It’s just another way Rural Development is creating ladders of opportunity to help people have the tools they need to climb into the middle class. Read more »

Local Food, Local Places: Bringing Expertise and Creative Thinking to Community Economic Development

Cross-posted from the White House Rural Council blog:

Around the country, communities are seeking creative approaches to integrating entrepreneurship, environmental management, public health, and other place-based considerations into successful economic planning. Local food development can be one strategy.

The White House Rural Council and six federal agencies have selected 26 communities to participate in Local Foods, Local Places, a federal initiative providing direct technical support and expertise to community partners integrating local food systems into regional economic action plans. Under this effort, a team of federal agricultural, transportation, environmental, public health, and regional economic experts will work directly with communities to develop specific local food projects. These efforts will make a significant impact in the communities participating in the Local Foods, Local Places initiative. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Getting Covered is Good for Rural America

Infographic: Getting covered is good for rural America.

Infographic: Getting covered is good for rural America. (click to enlarge image)

Cross posted from the Huffington Post:

Living in a rural community shouldn’t have to come with a hefty price tag for healthcare. On this National Rural Health Day, we celebrate the fact that thanks to the Affordable Care Act, it no longer has to.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is already making a difference in the lives of millions of rural Americans. Prior to the ACA, many rural families had a hard time finding affordable insurance coverage, paying an average of nearly half of their costs out of their own pockets. Many didn’t have access to affordable health insurance through an employer because they were self-employed as farmers, ranchers or rural business owners and entrepreneurs. While those folks take calculated business risks every day, their health should not be one of them. Read more »