WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representatives Elaine Luria (D-VA-02) and Mike Bost (R-IL-12) today introduced bipartisan legislation to expand access to emergency funding for rural areas. The Emergency Rural Community Relief Act would allow rural communities with fewer than 20,000 residents to utilize USDA Community Facility Program grants in times of emergency to operate community essential facilities, including the construction of temporary drive thru COVID-19 testing and vaccine distribution sites and personal protective equipment disposal locations.
“We cannot leave our rural communities behind as we work to rebuild from the damage caused by the pandemic,” Congresswoman Luria said. “Providing our communities with the resources they need will allow them to keep residents safe and establish critical vaccine distribution sites.”
“While rural communities do not have access to the same kinds of resources as many urban and suburban areas, they too have been hit hard by COVID-19 and the shutdowns it has caused,” said Congressman Bost. “By expanding access to these critical federal grants, we can help ensure that these communities can continue to provide vitally important emergency services and establish additional COVID-19 testing centers and vaccine distribution sites to keep residents safe and healthy.”
Currently, the Community Facility Program grants can only be used to construct essential facilities in rural communities. The Emergency Rural Community Relief Act allows the grants to be used for operational expenses as well.