Federal Resources for Rural Communities

The federal government is committed to providing resources and support to the 51 million Americans living in nonmetropolitan areas. We've compiled program information from four major Departments that have targeted programs for rural America. These resources have far-reaching goals and audiences, from those living on Tribal lands to Veterans. Please take a look at the resources below to learn more. 

USDA Rural Development Program - Housing and Community Assistance 

USDA’s Rural Development Program provides assistance for individuals and families experiencing homelessness through its housing and community facilities programs, both of which provide assistance in the form of guaranteed loans, direct loans, and grants. USDA provides funding for single family homes, apartments for low-income persons or the elderly, housing for farm laborers, childcare centers, homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters, and other social service agencies that serve rural communities. In partnership with non-profits, Indian tribes, state and federal government agencies, and local communities, HCFP creates packages of technical assistance and loan and grant funds to assist more rural communities and individuals. Rural development programs help families and individuals escape homelessness by providing safe and affordable housing to a sector of the population that would not otherwise receive housing assistance. 

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HUD Office of Native American Programs 

HUD’s Office of Native American Programs (ONAP) is the principal administrator of housing assistance in tribal communities. ONAP administers funds to tribes for affordable housing activities through the Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) program. Housing assistance programs for Native Americans were consolidated into the IHBG program, which allows tribes to fund a variety of housing related activities including: housing development, assistance to housing developed under the Indian Housing Program, housing services to eligible families and individuals, crime prevention and safety, and model activities that provide creative approaches to solving affordable housing problems. ONAP provides homeownership opportunities through the Section 184 Home Loan Program and leveraging opportunities through the Title VI loan guarantee program, which funds the same activities as the IHBG program. 

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Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs Housing Improvement Program

The Office of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs’ (BIA) Housing Improvement Program provides housing repair assistance and homes for American Indians with incomes at or below 125% of the federal poverty level who are homeless or living in substandard housing. 

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Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Rural Health

To better serve Veterans in rural areas, VA’s Office of Rural Health (ORH) was established in 2007 to improve access and quality of health care for rural Veterans and Native American Veterans in tribal communities. Veterans living in rural areas have traditionally been underserved with regard to health care access. ORH supports three Veterans Rural Health Resource Centers that provide technical assistance to service providers, evaluations of promising practices, and promotion of telehealth technologies (the delivery of health-related services through information technology). ORH also funds Veterans Integrated Services Network (VISN) Rural Consultants to coordinate rural health efforts in each VISN.  The ORH funded projects are expanding services within communities, facilities, and community-based outpatient clinics to provide and improve access to care for all Veterans, specifically hard-to-reach Veterans in rural, highly rural, and reservation areas.  ORH has obligated over $50 million dollars in the past four years for Native Veteran services and projects.  

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HHS/HRSA Rural Health Services

The Office of Rural Health Policy (ORHP) coordinates activities related to rural health care within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Part of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), ORHP has department-wide responsibility for analyzing the possible effects of policy on 62 million residents of rural communities. ORHP administers grant programs designed to build health care capacity at both the local and State levels. These grants provide funds to 50 State Offices of Rural Health to support on-going improvements in care, and to rural hospitals through the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Grant (Flex). Through its community-based programs, ORHP encourages network development among rural health care providers; upgrades in emergency medical services; and places and trains people in the use of automatic external defibrillators. Rural health teams include those focused on border health, telehealth, community-based health and capacity building, and on improving small rural hospitals. 

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