The U.S. House of Representatives tonight approved a provision authored by U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo to grant Rural Designation to the City of Freeport, a move that will make the city eligible for a host of federal grants and low-interest loans to improve housing opportunities for residents.
Normally, cities not in a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) must have a population under 20,000 to qualify for rural designation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Freeport, which is not in an MSA, has a population exceeding 25,000 and does not qualify under current regulations.
Congressman Manzullo succeeded in convincing his colleagues to grant Freeport a special exemption to obtain rural designation. The designation is included in the FY 08 Agriculture Appropriations bill, which the House approved tonight. The Senate must still pass the legislation and the President must sign it into law before it takes effect. Congressman Manzullo will work with Senators Durbin and Obama to ensure the designation is protected throughout the process.
"With this rural designation, the City of Freeport and our local non-profit agencies can apply for grants and low-interest loans through the USDA to help improve housing and assist our residents in owning their own homes. Funds are also available to help repair or rehabilitate older, lower-income housing," Manzullo said. "It will provide tremendous opportunities to help improve the landscape in downtown Freeport and better the lives of many of its residents."
For further information on the programs available under Rural Designation, check out the "Rural and Community Development" section at http://www.usda.gov/