Forty-six rural and tribal communities will share in $28 million in funding to address distressed housing conditions and concentrated poverty, announced the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which is awarding the grants under its new Rural Innovation Fund.

“Rural America is vast and diverse, and different communities face different challenges and opportunities,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan in a statement. “Because there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to strengthening rural communities, this funding provides flexible resources to address either housing or economic development needs, or both. This is especially important for communities that may have more limited access to resources because of their distant locations. These are catalytic projects that will have an impact on their communities for generations to come.”

For example, in Alaska, the Atmautluak Traditional Council will receive $798,888 to launch the Pikat Housing Development Company Project, which will address the need for sustainable, permanent jobs by development energy-efficient and culturally informed housing for low-income residents in the Village of Atmautluak. The development company plans to construct two prototype homes that can then be duplicated in Atmautluak and the surrounding villages.

In Arizona, Nogales Community Development will receive a nearly $2 million grant to revitalize the downtown core of the rural colonia. The group will develop a training and resource center to provide residents with services and spur revitalization of historic downtown buildings. In another activity, the group will provide rental housing rehab.

In Minnesota, the Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corp. in Detroit Lakes will use a $300 million grant to redevelop a commercial facility for the production of biomass heating pellets, capitalizing on the area’s supply of wood and logging residue.

And in one more example, the Taos Pueblo in Taos, N.M., will use a $799,997 grant to start a nine-year mission to rehabilitate 320 housing units.

Overall, 19 states are represented among the service areas receiving grants. Twenty-seven awardees are tribes or tribal affiliates, and 789 housing units are proposed for low-income residents.

HUD received 307 applications from 48 states for more than $236 million, almost 10 times the amount available. Eligible applicants were federally recognized Indian tribes, state housing finance agencies, state community development agencies, local rural nonprofits, community development corporations, or consortia of these groups.  Grantees can use their grant funding to support a variety of housing and economic development activities including construction, preparation of plans, land acquisition, demolition, homeownership counseling, and financial assistance.

HUD awarded Rural Innovation Fund grants in three categories:

Comprehensive Grants:

Awarded seven grants, in which grantees have examined the social, housing, and economic needs and resources of their target areas and made proposals that address these needs through activities that will have sustained benefit and resources after HUD assistance is used. The maximum grant amount was $2,000,000 for this category.

Single Purpose Grants:

Awarded 31 grants for more targeted initiatives, which typically focus primarily on either housing or economic development.  The maximum award amount was $300,000 for this category. 

Economic Development and Entrepreneurship for Federally Recognized Tribes:

Awarded eight grants from $5 million set aside for applications for federally recognized Indian tribes. The maximum award amount was $800,000 for this category.