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2501 Program Recipient Helps Heirs Connect with Important Resources

Posted by Carrie Knight, Public Affairs Specialist, USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement in Equity Initiatives
Mar 21, 2024
A group of people talking in front of a forest

In 2020, The Center for Heirs Property Preservation (CHPP) in Charleston, South Carolina was awarded a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 2501 grant to support its mission of helping families keep their property and put it to work for them. The 1990 Farm Bill created the 2501 Program to support the efforts of organizations like CHPP to provide training and technical assistance to underserved and veteran farmers, ranchers and foresters who seek to own and operate successful farms, ranches and forest lands.

CHPP provides free valuable education, legal advice, direct legal services and forestry across South Carolina, with offices in Charleston, Orangeburg and Florence.

Heirs’ property is family-owned land that is jointly owned by heirs of a deceased person that has been passed down without a clear and current will or deed. These heirs have the right to use the property, but they do not have a clear or marketable title to it since the estate issues remain unresolved. Unfortunately, this vulnerability can force partition sales by third parties, sales in which the property is often undervalued. Without proof of ownership, it may be difficult for heirs to obtain federal benefits that could support farming activities.

Established in 2005, CHPP has built a legacy of trust within the communities it serves. That trust is evident in success stories like that of Ms. Jenkins, a resident of a rural county in the state. Jenkins, a widow without title to land previously belonging to her late husband, attended one of CHPP’s seminars and learned that South Carolina has a 10-year probate deadline. Jenkins was 10 days from that deadline. CHPP staff responded immediately to her need and scheduled an emergency intake visit the next day. Within 5 days, Jenkins was able to visit the court with her signed probate paperwork, and her title to her late husband’s land successfully cleared.

CHPP Communications Director Keisha Kirkland said that the USDA 2501 grant bolstered CHPP’s outreach capacity. “This grant has allowed us to expand our reach and meet the high demand for our services,” she said. She noted that this outreach is critical in underserved communities that may distrust government agencies or large corporations. “Through our partnership, we have been able to go into these communities and bridge a meaningful relationship between USDA staff and these landowners, thereby increasing the number of landowners accessing USDA programs.”

Category/Topic: Equity Initiatives