Welcome to USDA Rural Development’s Virginia newsletter. Here you’ll find funding news, rural Virginia stories and opportunities for learning and networking.
USDA Seeks Applications for Loans to Provide Broadband in Rural Areas
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for loans to provide and expand broadband service in rural areas. The deadline for applications is September 30. For details on how to apply, see page 34473 of the July 25 Federal Register. Read more.
USDA Invests in Rural Electric Infrastructure
USDA is providing loans to help cooperatives and utilities in 10 states improve and expand rural electric infrastructure. The loans are being provided through USDA Rural Development’s Electric Program. They will support the construction and improvement of nearly 1,200 miles of transmission and distribution line in rural parts of Idaho, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Virginia and Wyoming. Read more.
USDA Seeks Applications for Grants to Help Agricultural Producers and Small Rural Businesses Develop New Products
USDA is accepting applications for grants to help farmers, ranchers and producer-based businesses nationwide develop new product lines. The funding is being provided through the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program. The deadline to submit paper applications is January 31, 2018. Electronic applications submitted through grants.gov are due January 24, 2018. Read more.
USDA Announces Time Frames to Submit Pre-Applications for Housing Preservation & Revitalization Demonstration Loans & Grants
USDA announces the time frames to submit pre-applications to participate in a demonstration program to preserve and revitalize existing Multi-Family Housing (MFH) projects currently financed under Section 514, Section 515, and Section 516 of the Housing Act of 1949, as amended. Pre-application submission deadlines for these opportunities are 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time December 1, 2017 for applicants requesting multiple MPR funding tools, and 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, September 28, 2018 for any MPR applicants requesting debt deferral only for eligible Section 514 or Section 515 loans. Read more.
Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Tours Virginia
The Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development (RD) Anne Hazlett visited Virginia for a one-day, five-stop tour of properties assisted by RD programs.
Hazlett visited Laurel Woods apartments in Ashland where she attended lunch with children participating in the Summer Food Service Program.
Since 2014, the Summer Food Service program has flourished in Virginia with record numbers expanding from two to 61 properties, making the program in the state one of the most active in the country. Last year alone,16,169 meals were served at USDA Rural Development complexes in Virginia.
Hazlett toured the Habitat for Humanity constructed Bailey Woods Subdivision in Ashland and later met with the the Habitat for Humanity Virginia Executive Director Overton McGehee to discuss the agency’s partnership with the organization.
Since 2013, RD Virginia has financed seven out of nine homes in the Bailey Woods Subdivision through the home direct program and a partnership with Hanover Habitat for Humanity.
Hazlett met with the Town Manager of Port Royal to discuss the town’s water infrastructure needs.
A new water infrastructure project will include a new ground water storage tank, a well building with pumps/tanks, emergency generator and distribution system improvements including meter replacement.
She visited the Westmoreland County Courthouse and discussed construction plans for a new county high school.
Her final visit was to the Botanical Bites & Provisions, LLC. in Fredricksburg, Va. Botanical Bites & Provisions, LLC. is a small successful family owned farm located in Spotsylvania County, Virginia that currently produces environmentally sustainable vegetables, herbs, cut flowers, small fruits, berries, and honey. They sell tomatoes, watermelons, squash, blueberries and other produce from May through September, in addition to flowers such
as snapdragons and sunflowers.
The farm received a grant that helps agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of bio-based, value-added products. Generating new products, creating and expanding marketing opportunities, and increasing producer income are the goals of this program.
To learn more about the Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development, visit her bio.
Rural Development Disaster Assistance
In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, USDA Rural Development (RD) issued a letter outlining ways the agency can provide assistance to homeowners affected by the hurricane. RD also provides assistance for new grants and to help existing loan and grant recipients. Do not hesitate to contact your local Rural Development Office by email or telephone if you have questions about your loan or grant.
Emergency Community Water Assistance Grants
These grants are designed for rural communities with a significant decline in the quantity or quality of drinking water. The population must not exceed 10,000, and median household income cannot exceed the State’s non-metropolitan median household income. Grants may be made for 100 percent of project costs. The maximum grant is $500,000 when a significant decline in quantity or quality of water or an imminent source shortage occurred within 2 years. The maximum grant is $150,000 for emergency repairs and replacement of existing facilities. Learn more.
Single-Family Housing Loan Borrowers or Grant Recipients
What is available to assist you if you have been impacted by disaster and are a Rural Development (RD) Single Family Housing Guaranteed and/or Direct borrower? Learn more.
Multi-Family Housing Loan Borrowers and Their Tenants
Residents in Rural Development-financed apartment complexes who are displaced by a natural disaster may apply for occupancy at any of our apartment complexes and receive special priority consideration for the next available unit. Displaced tenants who are receiving Rental Assistance may have their subsidy transferred if the complex they move to is eligible for the Rental Assistance program. Although Rural Development expects borrowers’ hazard insurance to cover damage costs associated with the disaster, we can consider temporary measures to reduce borrowers’ financial burdens and work with them, if needed, to develop a servicing workout plan. Learn more.
Community Facilities Loan Borrowers
Community Facilities (CF) delivers a number of programs to help improve the quality of life in rural communities throughout the nation. These programs may also help rural communities impacted by natural disasters in rebuilding and recovery efforts. Learn more.
Rural Development’s business programs normally do not have disaster assistance authority. However, many of our programs can help provide financial relief to small businesses as a result of natural disasters. Learn more.
Updated Contacts for Virginia Field Offices
The Rural Development offices in Courtland, Culpeper and Wytheville, Va. recently changed office numbers. Access the updated employee directory here.
Summits, events and conferences that Rural Development Virginia will be attending and/or hosting presentations:
2017 No Kid Hungry Virginia Summit
Date: Sept. 18–19, 2017
Location: The Westin Richmond, 6631 W Broad St, Richmond, VA 23230
Rural Development Multi-Family Housing Specialist Crystal Tyler will present on the Rural Development Summer Food Service Properties in Virginia.
Hosted by No Kid Hungry Virginia
Virginia Resources Authority Community Investment Workshop Series
Date: Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017
Time: 9:00am to 3:00pm
Location: Holston Hills Community Golf Course, Multi-Use Room, 1000 Country Club Road, Marion, Virginia
Rural Development Area Director Craig Barbrow will present a USDA RD Program Overview.
Learn more about the workshop series.
Hosted by Virginia Resources Authority
Boots to Business | Reboot
Date: Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 30–31, 2017
Time: 8:30am — 5:00pm
Location: Community Business Partnership, 6564 Loisdale Court, Suite 600, Springfield, VA 22150
Starting or growing a veteran owned business? Local farmers, federal agency representatives, lenders and resource partners will come together to provide this 2-day workshop on the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and getting started in agribusiness.
Hosted by U.S. Small Business Administration & Community Business Partnership
22nd ANNUAL CHEROENHAKA (NOTTOWAY) INDIAN “CORN HARVEST” POWWOW
Date: November 3rd, 4th, & 5th
Location: 27345 Aquia Path & CATTASHOWROCK TRAIL, OFF Hwy. 58 & Rt, 742 (Old Bridge Road), Courtland, Virginia 23837
Stop by the USDA Farm Services Agency, Rural Development, and Natural Resources Conservation Services display.
Hosted by the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe
2017 Small Farm Family Conference
Date: November 10–11, 2017
Location: 990 Hilton Heights Road, Charlottesville, Virginia 22901
Stop by the USDA Farm Services Agency, Rural Development, and Natural Resources Conservation Services display.
Hosted by Virginia State University College of Agriculture, Virginia Cooperative Extension, USDA, SARE
Feds Feed Families: Unite Against Hunger
By: Danielle Logan
USDA Rural Development Virginia, Public Affairs
Did you know food banks and pantries traditionally see a decrease in donations despite an increase in need during the summer months? Through the Feds Feed Families campaign, USDA employees can help keep needed food items stocked from June to August.
In Washington, D.C., the Capital Area Food Bank receives collections and distributes them through its network of more than 500 partner organizations. Through these efforts, the food drive has collected nearly 70 million pounds of food for those in need. According to the department, last year alone, more than 12.5 million pounds were donated and provided to food banks and pantries.
But the efforts don’t stop at our nation’s capital.
USDA offices in every state contribute by gathering non-perishable food items to donate directly to a local food bank. Through participating food banks, employees are also able to volunteer to pick or package fresh fruits and vegetables that farmers have set aside to assist the local communities in fighting hunger — an activity known as gleaning. Volunteers can pick, sort and deliver fresh produce to food banks, churches and other partners.
Over 1,700 volunteers each year glean and harvest local farmers’ fields at Virginia’s Northern Neck Food Bank (NNFB), collecting 391,000 pounds of fresh produce.
Zakery Comer was one of many USDA employees who attended a gleaning in 2016.
“It was a great experience to do something that would directly benefit the community,” Comer said. “I was so happy to unite with both fellow employees and the food bank to fight against hunger.”
VHDA Closes First USDA Existing Manufactured Housing Loan in Virginia
By: Brian Matt
Virginia Housing Development Authority, PR Manager
The Virginia Housing Development Authority recently partnered with a federal agency to pilot a new home loan program in Virginia that helps low to moderate-income individuals and families buy manufactured homes in rural areas.
By agreeing to join the Existing Manufactured Housing Unit Financing Pilot Program offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development office in Virginia, VHDA has been able to expand its existing VHDA/RD loan program from financing only new manufactured housing — defined as one year old and newer — to financing existing manufactured housing that can be between one and approximately 10 years old. As a result, many more manufactured housing units are now available to be financed with the multiple benefits offered by VHDA and RD.
“The beauty of this loan program is that it offers zero down payment, minimal cash out of pocket, a less expensive guarantee fee, and VHDA’s low interest rate — these benefits combined give rural home buyers a great deal,” said Allen Andrs, VHDA Mobile Mortgage Field Originator. “Because VHDA typically offers a below market interest rate and Rural Development offers the lowest loan guarantee fee available, I believe this is the best home loan program in the state, if not the country.”
The pilot loan program became available in Virginia this year when Michael Urban, USDA Single Family Housing Program Director, transferred from Vermont and was able to have Virginia included with the eight other states in the pilot.
“This program’s out of pocket expenses are definitely less for home buyers,” said Urban. “Our financing is 100% of the appraised value, and then we allow closing costs to be rolled in if the property appraises high enough, so some of our candidates could truly get into their home with no money out of pocket, while other loan programs have down payment requirements. The bottom line is that this program is helping more people get into homeownership.
“We discussed this pilot program with VHDA, and it just so happened that at the time VHDA’s Mobile Mortgage Office was working with first-time home buyer Tenesha Bullock on the purchase of her manufactured home with another loan product,” he added.
Andrs noted that Bullock’s loan application fit the guidelines of the new program, because the house she was buying was a 14-month-old manufactured home that was a model on a dealer’s lot. “Under the current Rural Development Guarantee program, we can’t finance manufactured homes that are greater than 12 months old. As a result, many older units on dealers’ lots wouldn’t have qualified, so Tenesha wouldn’t have been eligible. Fortunately, she qualified under the pilot program, and we were able to help her buy that home. As a result, she became VHDA’s first borrower using the RD loan program,” he said.
“It’s the best thing that has ever happened to me,” said Bullock. “I would absolutely recommend this program to other home buyers, because it gives people who may have lower incomes a chance to obtain homeownership.”
Bullock added that the no down payment feature was key to her purchase of the house. “Instead of taking a couple of years to save the thousands of dollars needed for a down payment, I was able to pursue homeownership immediately through this program,” she said.
Andrs said that over the life of Bullock’s 30-year fixed rate loan, he estimates she will save over $18,000 as a result of Rural Development’s loan guarantee fee, which is the lowest on the market.
“I am very fortunate to be the first one in this program, and I’m glad that VHDA was able to switch me over to the RD loan before I closed on the other loan. They saved me a lot of money on my monthly payment — I couldn’t be happier,” Bullock concluded.
Home buyers have the option of buying a new manufactured home that is older than 12 months from a dealer’s lot like Bullock did, or buying an existing manufactured home on a permanent foundation that was manufactured after January 1, 2006 from a home seller or through the foreclosure process.
Manufactured homes are defined as homes that are factory-built in the U.S. to federal construction standards. These homes are built on permanent chassis so they can be transported; however, they typically are not moved after they are installed. Most manufactured homes in Virginia are identified as vinyl-sided ranchers on masonry foundations.
To learn more about the VHDA/RD loan program or find out about eligibility requirements, contact Allen Andrs, VHDA Mobile Mortgage Field Originator, at Allen.Andrs@VHDA.com or (804) 837–1879.
Homebuyers can also use VHDA’s “Find a Lender” search on VHDA’s website (vhda.com) to locate local lenders who can assist with VHDA loans and interest rates.
To submit an article for the RD Virginia newsletter, contact Danielle.Logan@va.usda.gov.
Virginia News Stories
City Council to discuss grants, courthouse relocation
The Tidewater News
Main St. buildings getting new roofs
The Southwest Times