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Community Facilities

Already Planning to Feed More Kids than Ever During Summer 2017

Now that summer has come and gone, I’m happy to announce that this season the USDA Rural Housing Service was able to partner with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to feed more kids than ever before. Three hundred and five Rural Housing Service Multi-Family Housing properties participated in FNS’ Summer Meal Programs, which provide low-income children with free, healthy meals during the summer when school is out. This is 121 more affordable housing communities we were able to serve than the year before, and almost triple the number from 2014.

This is a huge success, and I’m so proud of my team across the country for feeding more kids at our properties than ever before! However, we cannot become complacent because we have the potential to make an even bigger difference in the lives of rural kids. There are more opportunities to partner with borrowers in our Multi-Family Housing and Community Facilities Programs, and I’ve set a lofty goal for summer 2017.

Addressing the Heroin and Prescription Opioid Epidemic

Walk into any town in rural America, and ask someone if they know someone who is struggling or has struggled with addiction.  Chances are the answer will be yes.

In 2014, 28,648 Americans died of overdoses of opioids, a class of drugs that includes both prescription pain medications and heroin.  Heroin-related overdose deaths nearly doubled between 2011 and 2013.  In 2013, prescription opioid abuse or dependency affected 1.9 million Americans, and 517,000 Americans had abused heroin within the past year.

Putting Our Minds Together to Improve Education on the Warm Springs Reservation

 

USDA celebrates National Native American Heritage Month in November with a blog series focused on USDA’s support of Tribal Nations and highlighting a number of our efforts throughout Indian Country and Alaska. Follow along on the USDA blog.

One year ago, I joined tribal and community leaders on the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation of Oregon to celebrate the completion of a new K-8 school. This state-of-the-art facility replaced a cramped school building constructed in the 1930s that could no longer meet the needs of educators, students or modern teaching techniques and tools. Today, young learners are benefiting from the modern science and computer labs, art and music rooms, a gymnasium, large cafeteria and gathering place, and many cultural features that celebrate the Tribal community’s heritage and traditions. By investing in the Warm Springs Academy the Tribe and community partners made a commitment to ensure the well-being, access to opportunities and success of children on the reservation for generations to come.

A Regional, Rural Northeast Kansas Hospital Celebrates the Completion of State-of-the-Art Facility

What began as an individual physician medical practice in 1859 in the small rural community of Onaga, Kan., has grown into a regional healthcare system spanning 10,000 square miles in three counties in northeast Kansas.  The vision for this regional system was seeded by dedicated doctors, nurses, and hospital staff and guided to fruition by a series of forward-thinking hospital administrators and board members.

Last month, Community HealthCare System (CHCS) took another step forward and cut the ribbon on their new hospital/hospital renovation project in Onaga.  The project was financed through a $17.59 million Community Facilities direct loan from USDA Rural Development and a companion $2 million USDA Rural Economic Development Loan from Bluestem Electric Cooperative.

A New Day for Healthcare in Livingston, Montana

When the first patient was admitted to the newly constructed Livingston HealthCare Hospital in late October, it marked a new era in state-of-the-art care for residents of Park County, Montana. The new critical care center boasts a Level IV Trauma Center with heli-pad, twenty-five beds, and 125,000 square feet to provide modern, high quality health care services to the over 15,000 people in the region.

And it's happening none too soon.

Investing in a Healthy Rural America

Imagine for a moment what it must be like to get injured in an accident, or have a heart attack or stroke, and have the nearest medical facility be an hour's ambulance ride away – and that's after the ambulance from thirty miles away gets to you.

That's an unfortunate reality faced by many rural Americans, where the miles between critical care centers can reach into the triple digits. USDA Rural Development is working to change that reality.

Winyan Toka Win Garden Evolves Into Micro Farm

USDA celebrates National Native American Heritage Month in November with a blog series focused on USDA’s support of Tribal Nations and highlighting a number of our efforts throughout Indian Country and Alaska. Follow along on the USDA blog.

When the Cheyenne River Youth Project (CRYP) first began its organic garden in 1999, staff members at the 26-year-old not-for-profit youth organization scarcely could have imagined where that little garden would take them. Now, 16 years later, the thriving two-acre Winyan Toka Win (“Leading Lady”) garden located in Eagle Butte, South Dakota is the beating heart of the youth project — and it’s quickly becoming a veritable micro farm.

Today, sustainable agriculture at CRYP supports nutritious meals and snacks at the main youth center for children four to twelve and at the Cokata Wiconi teen center.  It also provides fresh ingredients for the seasonal Leading Lady Farmers Market. To continue pursuing the long-term vision for the initiative, CRYP has invested in a new irrigation system, a composting system and a garden redesign.

Investing the Tools to Learn

As a society we do not expect children to learn to write without paper, we do not expect them to learn to cook without access to food, and we certainly would never expect them to learn to read without books. It’s simple: in order to learn, one must have the proper tools and experiences to do so.

At the Four Corners School of Outdoor Education, students and teachers, young and old, learn about conservation and land management by taking part in one of four programs designed to encourage stewardship of the entire Colorado Plateau region. While enrolled in the Canyon Country Youth Corps Program, students are immersed in land management education in order to eventually manage public lands in their own careers.

Investing in Learning Resources for Homeschoolers

More than one million children are homeschooled nationwide, and with that, over a million parents have committed huge amounts of time, money and patience into ensuring their children receive specialized one-on-one education. USDA Rural Development understands the challenges of homeschooling, and is an ally to the folks in rural America who choose this path.

In Marysville, California a unique charter school offers a special opportunity to homeschooled students: teachers and classrooms.  CORE @ the Camptonville Academy utilizes a Personalized Learning model which tailors one-on-one teaching with a focus on individual learning styles. Students who learn at home can come to the Academy for specialized classes and attention in subjects from math and science to 3D animation and robotics.

New Legislation Brings Projects in Reach for Rural Connecticut

The first week of August brought an important milestone for communities in Connecticut. I was pleased to be on hand as our Governor, Dannel Malloy, held a ceremonial bill signing for Senate Bill 458. This legislation is significant because it changes the maturity date for municipal bonds issued in conjunction with any water, waste, or community facility loan from USDA Rural Development from an original 20 years to a 40 year bonding term. Of the 169 towns in the state of Connecticut, 69 of those have populations under 10,000. This makes them eligible to receive loans from USDA Rural Development through our community facilities program. This act will make repayment on such loans affordable for small towns that are in need of essential community facility additions and improvements.