USDA has formalized an agreement in which a nonprofit organization will purchase homes and convert them to transitional housing for people recovering from opioid misuse.
“From quality of life to workforce and economic opportunity, the opioid crisis is impacting rural prosperity in communities across our country,” said Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett.
USDA Rural Development’s partnership with Isaiah House will allow the organization to purchase and rehabilitate two USDA-owned homes in Kentucky’s Hart and Rockcastle counties and convert them to transitional housing for individuals and their families. This agreement is the first in an initiative that enables the department to sell vacant, foreclosed homes at a discount to provide housing, treatment, job training and other key services for people in drug treatment and recovery.
Isaiah House provides residential and outpatient treatment services. Its holistic approach incorporates job skills training to ensure clients have the necessary skills to obtain employment and successfully re-enter the workforce. Individuals in recovery help rehabilitate the properties. Graduates of the long-term recovery program oversee the job skills training program and are guaranteed full-time employment.
Misuse of prescription opioids is a major public health challenge facing rural communities in Kentucky and across the nation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified 54 Kentucky counties that are at risk for outbreaks of HIV and/or hepatitis C because of the opioid epidemic. There were 1,565 overdose fatalities in Kentucky in 2017. The highest number of deaths occurred among people between age 35 and 44.
For a rural community or county already struggling to attract new businesses – or maintain existing ones – the impact of opioid misuse on the quality of life and economic prosperity can be enormous. CDC reported in October 2017 that death rates from drug overdoses in rural areas have now surpassed drug overdose death rates in urban areas.
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 services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit http://www.rd.usda.gov/.