USDA and HHS Partner to Create Recovery Housing in Rural Communities

WASHINGTON, Feb. 15, 2019 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz today announced USDA and HHS will partner to create addiction recovery transitional housing in rural communities.

“Strong and healthy communities are foundational for prosperity in rural America,” Hazlett said. “Under the leadership of President Trump, we are committed at USDA to building innovative partnerships and driving more effective and efficient use of our resources to address the opioid misuse crisis at the local level.”

McCance-Katz said, “We know that the opioid crisis has hit rural communities hard, and we need to leverage all possible partnerships to support these communities. Housing plays a vital part in the recovery process for those living with opioid use disorders.”

USDA and HHS formalized their partnership through an official Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Nonprofit organizations will be able to purchase homes from USDA and convert them to transitional housing for people recovering from opioid misuse.

USDA Rural Development and HHS Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will coordinate efforts to sell USDA’s Real Estate Owned (REO) single-family housing properties at a discount to non-profit organizations that provide housing, treatment, job training and other key services for people in substance misuse treatment and recovery. This will further enhance the two organizations’ formal collaboration. It began in 2018 with SAMHSA’s supplementing of USDA Cooperative Extension grants to expand technical assistance and training on opioid use disorder prevention and treatment.

President Donald J. Trump has mobilized his entire Administration to address opioid misuse by directing the declaration of a nationwide Public Health Emergency. To help local leaders respond to this epidemic, USDA has worked to build infrastructure for prevention, treatment and recovery, facilitate partnerships, and drive innovation in rural communities. In 2018, USDA worked with the Office of National Drug Control Policy to establish a White House Rural Opioid Federal Interagency Working Group which is improving the coordination of federal resources in rural America. In December, USDA launched the Community Opioid Misuse Toolbox. This initiative includes the Community Resource Guide (PDF, 1.7 MB), a comprehensive directory of federal resources that can help rural communities address the opioid crisis, and the Community Assessment Tool, an interactive database to help community leaders assess how and why the opioid epidemic is impacting their regions. USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and healthcare; and high-speed internet e-Connectivity in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.