Resources for Programs Serving Rural Veterans
June 2013 E-Newsletter
One of the most well received sessions at the NCHV Annual Conference focused on serving the needs of rural veterans. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development’s Community Facilities (CF) Program exemplified one of the programs highlighted during this session.
The CF Program provides financing through direct and guaranteed loans and grants to units of local government, nonprofit organizations and federally-recognized Indian Tribes for the development of essential community facilities in rural areas. These loans and grants may be used to support the construction, purchase, development or renovation of essential community facilities for public use in rural communities with populations of 20,000 or less.
These facilities include schools, libraries, adult and child care centers, homeless shelters, hospitals, medical clinics, assisted living facilities, fire and rescue stations, police stations, community centers, public buildings and transportation. While facilities funded by the CF Program must be open to the entire community, organizations serving veterans could still qualify.
Some examples of CF funding include supporting local and regional food system projects, such as the construction of a food bank; renovating, purchasing, and installing equipment to maintain a kitchen to prepare food and food services; and to purchase vehicles for food delivery. Additionally, funding can be used to purchase a commercial van to deliver food to disabled veterans or to pick up veterans and other rural citizens and deliver them to a center where food or health services are provided to them. The funding can be used to construct wheelchair ramp access for existing food banks which provide service to veterans and other rural citizens. CF funding can also be used to develop or improve a rural community health center to improve access to critical health care services for veterans (and others).
NCHV interviewed Anita Outen, Senior Loan Specialist for the CF Program to ask some additional questions related to the application process and how organizations can best proceed to seek funding.
The amount of grant assistance offered for each project depends upon several factors, including the median household income, economic feasibility, and the availability of funds in that community. Grant assistance may be available for up to 75% of project costs.
In most instances, projects which receive grant assistance will meet some of the high priorities below and will be highly leveraged with other loan and grant awards. These priority areas include:
• Serving small communities – highest priority to projects located in a community with a population of 5,000 or less.
• Serving low-income communities – highest priority to projects serving communities with median household incomes below the higher of the poverty line or 60% of the State non-metropolitan median household income.
• Providing healthcare, public safety, or public and community services
The application process accepts inquiries on a rolling basis and is handled by the USDA RD field offices. RD staff will be glad to discuss a community’s needs and the services available through the Housing and Community Facilities Program and other agencies within USDA. The field staff can provide application materials and current program information, and assist in the preparation of an application.
Organizations interested in applying for funding or learning more should contact the appropriate state office to apply for funding, located at www.rurdev.usda.gov/StateOfficeAddresses.html. The CF application process is a two-stage procedure (preapplication and application). Approximately 45 days is required to determine applicant eligibility, project priority status, and funding availability. After an application is submitted, time to process the application depends upon the scope of the project, environmental review, and legal issues.
To receive CF funding, organizations should not have the ability to fund their project through commercial sources that offer reasonable rates. The website states that “applicants must be unable to obtain needed funds from commercial sources at reasonable rates and terms.” It is acceptable for past grant applications to not have been successful; nevertheless, the organization or institution must seek out and apply for alternative sources of private funding before receiving a CF grant.
The USDA Rural Development office also operates other programs that may be able to support your organization. Please contact your local office if you are interested in learning more about other programs with the USDA RD.
For more information, visit the NCHV Annual Conference resources page and visit the CF homepage at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov.
RD State Office Addresses: www.rurdev.usda.gov/StateOfficeAddresses.html
CF Program Information:
Rental Assistance Program: www.rurdev.usda.gov/Rental_Assistance_Program.html
Programs to assist low-income families: www.rurdev.usda.gov/HSF_SFH.html