MONROE, N.C. -- Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced that 78 multi-family housing developments in 16 states have been selected for inclusion in a demonstration program designed to preserve and rehabilitate apartment complexes financed through USDA Rural Development.

A total of almost $47.8 million in loan restructurings plus over $20 million in new financing and tax credits will make it possible to rehabilitate 2,228 apartment units under the Multi-Family Housing Preservation and Revitalization Restructuring Program.

"Decent and safe housing is important in any community and this project will help our rural communities to provide it." said Johanns. "This project will ensure that existing rental properties will be repaired or rehabilitated to bring new vibrancy to rural America."

Many of the properties financed through USDA Rural Development in past decades are in excellent condition, some require substantial revitalization resulting from normal physical depreciation. The program is seen as a way to accomplish that objective.

The MPR allows for the restructuring of selected existing Section 515 USDA Rural Development rural rental housing loans. Properties that restructure their loans under the program must remain available to low-income residents. Funds freed up through debt deferral and restructuring will make sure existing owners of Section 515 rural rental housing complexes, and purchasers of such properties, will have sufficient resources to preserve the complexes.

Funding may be used for debt deferrals, revitalization grants, rehabilitation loans, soft mortgage loans, debt forgiveness and subsequent rehabilitation loans. For example, in Menno, S.D., six apartment buildings containing 24 units, constructed between 1966 and 1981, will receive repairs including new windows, siding, doors, rehabilitated kitchens, bathrooms and parking facilities.

Funds will come from a combination debt deferral and $500,000 loan. Under the demonstration program, complexes are slated for rehabilitation in the following states: Ark., Iowa, Kan., La., Maine, Mass., Mo., Miss. N.C., Okla., Penn., S.C., S.D. Tenn., Wash. and Wis. The demonstration program may be expanded to other states in future years.

USDA Rural Development's mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life in rural communities.

SOURCE: USDA news release.