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Release No. 0301.05 Contact: USDA Press Office (202) 720-4623 - page 37 / 53

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releases other Section 515 projects from that program.

     Grove City, a community with a population of 625 and a median income of $25,000, is the home to the first Section 515 projects in the nation, Grove City Community Homes.  This 26-unit project was built in 1964 and has had virtually no monies available for the past 40 years for everyday maintenance and repair until now when we were awarded this year $834,000 from USDA rural development to rehab this project.

      The demand for low income housing in this region in Minnesota is very high.  The lowest income employees,, due to wages, look for low income housing in different cities that are easy commuting distances.  This is exactly the role Grove City and other small rural Minnesota communities play.  The demand for the existing housing exists.  The demand for the funding to rehabilitate these existing projects is overwhelming.  Yet the monies available for rehabilitating these existing projects is very little.  

     The USDA rural development should not abandon this marketplace nor should the government be the mortgage holder of substandard housing.  It is clearly the role of rural development to provide safe, decent, sanitary housing for citizens in rural Minnesota.  Without funding such as this Grove City Community Homes was headed for foreclosure because of extreme rundown conditions.  This funding will allow 26 low income families to have a decent place to live.  Funding such as this will allow the community to remain viable.  So we appreciate the funding.

     It is extremely important to keep rental assisted units available at all times in these projects.  To remove rental assistance because it is not used for a short period of time in any of these projects would be disastrous to rural Minnesota.  This is a battle between urban and rural America based on population of low income.  The urban areas will always have the greatest need while the rural areas, which is the backbone of this country, slowly deteriorates until there is no rural left.  Thank you.

       MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Let’s go to the next question, please.

      ALLEN:  Mr. Secretary, Allen from Stearns County.  Urban sprawl is my biggest concern.  We lose a million acres to urban sprawl each year.  The world population is growing and is going to double in 55 years mainly in third-world countries.  China, especially, is coming out of a third-world economy to a western world economy.  They have five times as many people in China as we do in America, but they farm 100 million acres less.  They are gaining 11 percent wage increase each year since 1999 and every year thereafter.  When they have enough money to start buying our food and we are losing a million acres of farm land each year to urban sprawl, where are we going to be?  We won’t have any ethanol, biodiesel, home heating oil, rubber plants.  I understand we have those rubber plants, we can make crude oil out of pig manure.  None of this will be a viable thing if we lose our ag land.  So that 1031 exchange, what the man talked about is a huge thing.

      As a farmer, I can’t go to Minneapolis and build a dairy barn in downtown Minneapolis.  So why is the city coming out here and telling me where I can put my barn, what I can do, when I can do it, and how I can do it?  That just don’t work.  So we need to do something about the loss of ag land in this United States of America.

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