Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced last week that the USDA is accepting applications for grants to help low- and very-low-income rural residents repair their homes.

Housing Preservation Grants are provided to intermediaries such as town or county governments, public agencies, federally recognized Indian Tribes, and nonprofit and faith-based organizations. The grants are distributed to homeowners or owners of multi-family rental properties or cooperative dwellings who rent to low- and very-low-income people.

Grants can be used to weatherize and repair existing structures, install or improve plumbing or provide access to people with disabilities. For example, the Gateway Community Action Agency used a USDA Rural Development Housing Preservation grant in 2008 to make accessibility, weatherization and other improvements to William Reed's home in Owingsville, Ky. Gateway added insulation, weather stripping, seals around doors and windows, an energy-saving shower head and more efficient light bulbs.

USDA may award up to $10 million in competitive grants through this notice. The grants to be awarded are part of USDA Rural Development's annual budget and are not funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Applications are due by the close of business July 10, 2009. Applications may be accessed electronically at Also see the May 11, 2009, Federal Register, page 21775.USDA Rural Development's mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural residents. Rural Development fosters growth in homeownership, finances business development and supports the creation of critical community and technology infrastructure.