The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will assist a projected 77 Vermont and New Hampshire households perform necessary repairs and upgrades on their homes through its Housing Preservation Grant program. The USDA announced that it awarded $450,000 in grants to seven organizations which will use the funds to support low-income households undertake projects to increase the safety and quality of their homes. “Working families, the elderly and the disabled often face considerable financial constraints which prevent them from preserving the quality of their homes through investing in vital home repair and maintenance projects,” said USDA Rural Development Vermont and New Hampshire State Director Ted Brady. “Through this program, the USDA is able to partner with qualified local organizations which can identify households in need within their communities and assist them in creating safer, more affordable and more accessible homes in rural Vermont and New Hampshire.” Two New Hampshire non-profits and five Vermont non-profits received Housing Preservation Grants ranging from $25,000 to $150,000. The non-profits will make grants and loans to low-income homeowners to assist with weatherization and energy efficiency upgrades to increase housing affordability, accessibility enhancements to allow elderly and disabled residents to live independently, and basic home repairs to increase the health and safety of the region’s housing stock. Northeast Employment and Training Organization, Inc. of Newport, Vt. received a grant of $150,000 to assist 20 very-low-income households conduct preservation and weatherization repairs to houses in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Two other recipient organizations, Vermont Center for Independent Living of Montpelier and Rural Edge of Lyndonville received $100,000 each to serve Northeast Kingdom households. The three organizations benefited from the Northeast Kingdom’s designation as a Rural Economic Area Partnership Zone, recently reauthorized in the 2014 Farm Bill, which provides the region with a designated set aside of USDA Rural Development funding because of its unique rurality. Two other Vermont organizations each received $25,000: Southeastern Vermont Community Action serving Windham and Windsor counties and Champlain Housing Trust serving Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties. In New Hampshire, Community Action Program of Belknap-Merrimack Counties, Inc. and Southwestern Community Service, Inc. each received $25,000. In 2015, USDA Rural Development invested $3.7 million nationwide to help rural families repair and rehabilitate their homes through the Housing Preservation Grant program. Low income homeowners interested in accessing the funding should contact the recipient organization directly or call their local USDA Rural Development Office.