Somerton, Arizona, is a great example of how USDA Rural Development programs can help bolster a small rural community by touching so many aspects of not only the rural economy but the diverse and vibrant rural people who make it work.
Last week, USDA Rural Development Rural Housing Administrator Tammye Trevino joined Arizona State Director Alan Stephens and a crowd of local folks to announce two projects totaling more that $4.5 million for this one small town. The two USDA officials were met by Somerton officials, Irma Myers and others from Housing America Corporation (HAC) and other partners, clients and elected officials to celebrate a $1.8 million technical assistance grant to HAC for self-help housing. Among the others there to celebrate the funding were County Supervisor Tony Reyes who heads up Comite de Bien Estar and board members of Campesinos sin Fronteras. Comite and Campesinos also provide self-help housing assistance in the area.
Trevino pointed out that those three self-help housing entities have received this year alone more than $3.8 million from USDA Rural Development to develop hundreds of mutually self-help built homes for low and very low income people in the community. In a community such as Somerton where the economy has been hard hit, an infusion of that kind of money makes a big impact. The USDA Self-Help Housing program brings together 8 to 12 families in a group. They work together with a construction supervisor to build homes together for each of the families in the group, reducing their home costs by supplying a new “neighborhood” of willing hands to earn sweat equity. Some of the families who attended the event remarked that they would never have been able to afford a home of their own without the program.
In the afternoon Trevino and Stephens met at the site of a new group home that will soon be built by the Saguaro Foundation, thanks to a $2.7 million loan from USDA Rural Development. The Foundation, founded in 1976 by parents of developmentally and mentally challenged children, provides homes and services for children and adults throughout Yuma County.
The touching event illustrated the depth of Rural Development’s commitment to helping rural communities develop the infrastructure to help those in the community that need it most.
Over the years, USDA Rural Development’s relationship with Somerton includes loans and grants for community facilities, housing and infrastructure development. To find out how USDA’s housing and community facilities programs can benefit the residents of your community click here.