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USDA funding will be used for housing projects in rural Utah

Funding will be used to help provide affordable housing options in rural Utah
Benjamin Jopen
Funding will be used to help provide affordable housing options in rural Utah

The USDA’s Utah Office of Rural Development has been awarded three grants for housing projects from this USDA federal budget to improve rural infrastructure.

The Utah Office of Rural Development works to address a variety of issues facing rural areas, including economic development, as well as access to housing, healthcare, broadband internet and education.

Director Debra Meyer says that in Utah, federal aid can often be concentrated along the Wasatch Front. Her office’s goal is to focus on rural communities, and allocate USDA funding to projects that help rural Utahns.

“The impacts of people moving here in Utah are creating such a huge price influx of our homes that is actually hurting our families here," Meyer said.

And housing options are especially limited in small towns. Meyer noted, “Rural Utah doesn't have all the housing, there and they're not doing the big boom like they are here, you know, in Salt Lake and that building homes, but we have an opportunity for people to build homes in rural Utah, we have what we call a Self Help Program.”

Meyer explained that her office’s “self help program” gives funding to organizations that assist homeowners in building their own homes.

Meyer has allocated this federal funding to three different nonprofits across the state. Fifty thousand dollars is going to Community Rebuilds for repairs and safety improvements on ten low income homes, over fifty two thousand dollars in a Housing Preservation Grant to Uintah Basin Association of Governments and a 250 thousand dollar Rural Community Development Grant to CHOICE Humanitarian in collaboration with the Navajo Nation.

The Navajo Hopi Land Commission has received some funding to improve housing, but by collaborating with CHOICE Humanitarian, they can accomplish even more.

“This grant is there to help train and provide assistance to the Land Commission Office and the builders there to get moving forward on that project," Meyer said.

Improving infrastructure in rural America has been a main focus of the Biden Administration. Meyer is waiting to see what funding from the recently passed Infrastructure Bill may mean for additional grants.

Ellis Juhlin is a science reporter here at Utah Public Radio and a Master's Student at Utah State. She studies Ferruginous Hawk nestlings and the factors that influence their health. She loves our natural world and being part of wildlife research. Now, getting to communicate that kind of research to the UPR listeners through this position makes her love what she does even more. In her free time, you can find her outside on a trail with her partner Matt and her goofy pups Dodger and Finley. They love living in a place where there are year-round adventures to be had!