TIYAN, Guam—For fiscal year 2014, USDA Rural Development invested nearly $47 million in various projects throughout the Western Pacific. These funds were targeted toward first-time home ownership, home repair/rehabilitation, community facilities, business assistance and investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The Western Pacific includes Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.
Rural Development’s investment include $26.8 million in community facilities; over $17.6 million in housing funds that helped to assist 102 very-low to moderate-income families become first-time homeowners; $837,429 in loans and grants to assist 105 very-low income families with essential home repairs and renovations; over $688,320 in support of businesses and economic development, and a $1.0 million in a grant for a high energy cost area.
“These funds demonstrate the Obama Administration’s unyielding efforts to improve the quality of life for rural residents by ensuring that rural communities benefit from quality housing and public facilities” stated Chris Kanazawa, State Director for Hawaii, American Samoa and the Western Pacific. “USDA is committed to helping the Western Pacific access the resources needed to implement strategies that will invigorate the economy, reduce poverty and enhance the quality of life in the Western Pacific for years to come.”
These investments were made available through RD’s single family housing direct and guaranteed loan programs; the RH 504 home repair and rehabilitation loan and grant program; Community Programs; the Business & Industry (B&I) Guaranteed loan program; the Rural Energy for America Program; and other grant programs including the Rural Business Enterprise Grant; Value-Added Producer Grant; and the High Energy Cost Grant.
“Through its portfolio, Rural Development works with valued island partners to address the urgent needs of local residents in rural communities,” stated Gary Bloom, Area III Director for the Federated States of Micronesia.
In Pohnpei, USDA awarded a $41,250 grant to Lukop Elementary School, which was leveraged with a grant from the Australia Agency for International Development, to construct a perimeter/security fence for the school.
“This new perimeter security fencing safeguards valuable village assets including the entire grounds of Lukop Elementary School, the Early Childhood Education Center, the Village Medical Dispensary, and the Local Community Center. This investment safeguards critical community assets and ensures the delivery of basic community services while raising the standard of living for the people of Lukop,” stated Bloom.
“Rural Development will continue that mission for the Western Pacific in [fiscal year] 2015–creating economic opportunity and improving the quality of life for rural residents–one homeowner, one small business, one rural community at a time,” stated Joseph Diego, Area II Director for Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Republic of Palau and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $172 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.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. (USDA)