Delgado, Gillibrand propose block grants for rural areas

Rep. Antonio Delgado and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand introduced a bill last month that would fund $50 billion in block grants for rural areas to spend on broadband service, affordable housing, water and sewer improvements and other efforts to boost their economies.

The Rebuild Rural America Act would authorize five-year, renewable grants to rural regions that have set up “partnership councils” and have been certified as eligible by their states and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Amounts would be proportionate to each region’s population but weighted by poverty levels, with triple the normal amount given for each person in a census tract that has a poverty rate of 20 percent or higher.

Delgado, a Rhinebeck Democrat, said in a joint announcement with Gillibrand: “This bill gives rural communities the funding, flexibility, and technical assistance to do what they know will best help their towns — including building firehouses, repaving sidewalks, replacing old and failing water systems, and supporting economic development to make sure our upstate communities have what they need to grow and thrive.”

Two or three fellow Democrats co-sponsored the bill in each chamber.

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