WASHINGTON, Nov. 1, 2012 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced a comprehensive effort to help USDA-financed homeowners in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.
"USDA, working with FEMA and other partners, is dedicated to helping homeowners impacted by Hurricane Sandy," Vilsack said. "We are taking steps to ensure that direct and guaranteed USDA home loan borrowers have the assistance and resources they need to get through this disaster."
The following actions aim to help rural communities and residents in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic:
- USDA home loan borrowers in Presidential Declared Disaster, and surrounding counties, will receive a letter that outlines loan servicing assistance to help impacted borrowers with loan repayment. This includes a potential moratorium on payment schedules for up to six months for eligible borrowers.
- Available USDA properties that are not currently under lease or purchase agreement may be made available for lease to victims of Hurricane Sandy through FEMA.
- Victims of the disaster may obtain a Letter of Priority Entitlement at any USDA Rural Development area or state office. This enables the letter holder to move to the top of any waiting list at an USDA-financed multifamily property. These properties are privately-owned and applicants must pass current screening criteria.
USDA Rural Development is also taking steps to assist utilities, business owners and others in need. For example:
- Rural Development staff is reaching out to all telecommunications, electric and water system borrowers to assess any damages and offer immediate assistance.
- USDA is working with rural electric cooperatives in affected areas to assist in restoring power in the disaster zone.
- Rural Development is coordinating with state rural water associations to help rural communities assess water system outages and damages. At least 38 Circuit Riders, funded by USDA, have been deployed to assist local water system operators.
USDA encourages homeowners and business owners in rural communities to contact their local Rural Development office for housing, business or community assistance information. Additional information about assistance programs, safety tips and updates about USDA's hurricane relief efforts are posted on the Web at www.usda.gov/disaster. Click on the hurricane relief link. Click here for a list of Rural Development offices http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/StateOfficeAddresses.html. And information about the U.S. Government's hurricane response efforts is available at www.ready.gov.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has an active portfolio of more than $174 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).