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Our guest blogger today is Mercedes Márquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development.
As the granddaughter of farmworkers, I know how hard farmworkers work and I know the tremendous contribution they make to the American economy and to the meals our families eat every day.
Today I am in our nation’s northwest, speaking at the 8th Biennial Farmworker Housing Asset & Property Management Conference in Redmond, Oregon. HUD is part of the gathering presented by the nonprofits CASA of Oregon and the Office of Rural & Farmworker Housing in Washington to discuss one aspect of rural development: housing programs that improve the quality of life and self-sufficiency of farmworkers and other low-income and rural populations.
Focusing on stable and sanitary housing for farmworkers helps not only the workers themselves, but also their children and families, supporting the next generation of Americans. A more stable workforce and the building and maintenance of affordable housing in turn lead to stronger rural communities.
We know that rural policy cannot begin and end with agriculture, so HUD’s new Rural Innovation Fund promotes an ‘entrepreneurial approach’ to affordable housing and economic development in rural areas. Applications are under review for FY2010 funding and implementation of these funds will begin soon. HUD has requested $25 million for this very important program in the FY2012 Budget.
I expect to see great projects from the Rural Innovation Fund grantees. Meanwhile, I look forward to today’s discussions on topics ranging from the ins and outs of farmworker housing design and construction to the successful financing, management and marketing of housing projects that house some of our nation’s migrant – and vital – workers.