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Funding is available for rural housing and economic development projects including microlending and IDAs! The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that $25,750,000 will be available for grants made through the Rural Innovation Fund (RIF). Visit: http://www.hud.gov/offices/adm/grants/nofa10/grpruralinno.cfm

The Rural Innovation Fund was included in President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2010 budget request and was enacted by Congress with the 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act. It replaces HUD’s former Rural Housing and Economic Development Program. $25 million was appropriated for the RIF in FY 2010, and HUD added to that amount an additional $750,000 in unspent funds from the FY 2009 budget of the RHED Program.

HUD has established three categories of funding within the Rural Innovation Fund:

1. Single Purpose Grants: These projects identify a single area of need within a given rural area and propose specific activities to address that need. The maximum individual award in this category will be $300,000 and a total of $7.5 million will be available.

2. Comprehensive Purpose Grants: These projects have deeply examined the social, economic and housing needs and resources of a given rural area and propose a multi-pronged approach to address these multifaceted needs in a comprehensive manner. The maximum individual award in this category will be $2 million and a total of $13.25 million will be available.

3. Economic Development and Entrepreneurship for Federally Recognized Indian Tribes: These projects enable Indian tribes to promote economic development and entrepreneurship.

An eligible agency or organization may only apply once for funding through the Rural Innovation Fund. Indian tribes may apply for any one of the three funding categories and must specify which on their applications.

HUD has announced that it will give preference to projects that will leverage funds from other sources to support their activities and will also award bonus points on the application rating scale to projects located in and serving Empowerment Zones (EZs), Enterprise Communities (EC-IIs) and federally designated Renewal Communities (RCs) including the Lower Mississippi Delta Region, Appalachia’s Distressed Communities and Colonias located in Arizona, California, Mew Mexico and Texas.