Butterfield Introduces the Persistent Poverty Counties Loan Relief Act
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01), this week introduced H.R. 2228, the Persistent Poverty Counties Loan Relief Act of 2019. The bill gives government entities within persistent poverty counties (counties with 20 percent or more poverty for the past 30 years) the ability to restructure outstanding United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development loans:
“I am proud to introduce the Persistent Poverty Counties Loan Relief Act. We must do more for our most distressed counties across the country. Giving local governments in these persistent poverty counties the ability to restructure their outstanding USDA Rural Development loans will allow them to improve the quality of life for many struggling communities in rural America, said Butterfield. I look forward to working with my Congressional colleagues on this bill to support economic development and access to the technology, healthcare, and services needed for our rural communities to thrive.”
The Persistent Poverty Counties Loan Relief Act would provide political subdivisions within persistent poverty counties the ability to restructure loan debt acquired through USDA Rural Development loan programs to an interest rate of 0 percent for up to a 40-year loan term. Only local government entities in our most vulnerable and stressed counties across the country would be eligible for the restructuring of specific loans made through the USDA.
The Rural Development loans identified in the bill are designed to help rural communities build critical utility infrastructure like water treatment and electric distribution and generation facilities. They also target the expansion of broadband and telecommunications infrastructure to enable rural students and teachers access to information and teaching materials needed for success in the 21st Century. Expanded access to broadband and telecommunications technology also offers rural patients access to doctors and medical treatments through telemedicine, which produces better health outcomes and lower healthcare costs. Further, other loan programs eligible for loan restructuring in the bill are designed to help rural communities build essential community facilities like hospitals, child care centers, and affordable rental housing options for low-income individuals and families.
As of the last decennial census in 2010, there are 384 persistent poverty counties across the country, represented by both Democrats and Republicans. In North Carolina there are 10 persistent poverty counties and of those, the First Congressional District contains six. These counties are struggling on many fronts and that includes the ability of their local governments to make improvements to infrastructure and provide services. The Persistent Poverty Counties Loan Relief Act will give these local governments needed fiscal relief and a chance to provide critical infrastructure needed to spur economic development and the ability to provide necessary public services and utilities.
Find full text of the bill here.