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U.S. Senator Tina Smith Leads 29 Colleagues in Push for Robust Rural Housing Funding

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) led 29 of her Senate colleagues in a push for more funding for rural housing programs in the FY2025 Appropriations bill. In their letter, the Senators noted that rural communities saw only a 1.7% increase in the number of housing units between 2010 and 2020, with almost half of states seeing a decrease in the number of rural units. According to the Minnesota Housing Partnership, every county in Minnesota has a shortage of affordable and available rental homes for extremely low-income households. 79% of counties have a shortage that exceeds 100 homes, and 31% have a shortage exceeding 500 homes. “Without a safe, decent, affordable place to call home, nothing in your life works – not your job, your health, your education or your family,” said Senator Smith. “While the housing crisis is hurting communities across the country, the burden has been especially hard on small towns and rural communities. The severe shortage of affordable housing is hurting rural America’s ability to prosper, and it is imperative we direct more funding to address this housing shortage and finally bring our communities some relief.  “Against this backdrop, federal rural housing programs have shrunk to the point that only about 3,500 direct loans are available for low-income families to purchase or build their own home, the lowest level since 1957. Funding to preserve rental and farm labor housing is meager by any standard and by no means adequate to provide new housing opportunities or preserve existing housing resources,” wrote the Senators. “In the coming years, the number of maturing Section 515 mortgages will

U.S. Senators Tina Smith, Marco Rubio, Rick Scott Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Combat Loneliness Among Seniors

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Marco Rubio and Rick Scott (both R-Fla.) introduced the Social Engagement and Network Initiatives for Older Relief (SENIOR) Act to combat loneliness among American seniors. In 2023, one in three adults aged 50-80 reported feeling isolated from others, including nearly 40 percent reporting they only have contact with people outside their home once per week. Social isolation and loneliness increase seniors’ risk for dementia by some 50 percent—and heart disease and stroke by about 30 percent.  Loneliness is also associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide. “People say we can’t combat loneliness through legislation, but I think that’s a ridiculous thing to say. Whether it’s Meals on Wheels or support for caregivers, there are so many different things we can do to support people as they age,” said Senator Smith. “Nobody deserves to feel so alone and isolated that their health suffers, especially seniors. We are more connected now than ever before – yet loneliness endures. We need to invest in programs that will combat loneliness in our older Americans and I’m glad to be leading this charge.” “Seniors across the country are suffering from mental health issues and loneliness. That is why I am introducing the SENIOR Act to support Florida’s seniors by addressing this issue and bringing seniors back into our communities,” said Senator Rubio. “Florida has a wonderful senior population that contributes so much to our great state. Combatting the feeling of isolation and loneliness for our aging community has endless benefits – from better mental and physical health

U.S. Senators Tina Smith, Lisa Murkowski Introduce Legislation to Improve Aging Services for American Indian Elders

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the Enhancing Native Elders’ Longevity, Dignity, Empowerment, and Respect (Native ELDER) Act that would improve federal programs and services focused on healthy aging and independence for Alaska Native, American Indian, and Native Hawaiian elders. The legislation was introduced in May during Older Americans Month, a time to recognize the important role and contributions of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian elders. “Honoring and caring for elders is foundational to Native American communities. Tribal elders in Minnesota and across the country have been clear about their needs,” said Senator Smith. “Enhanced support for caregivers, funding for home

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Announces $22.3 Million in USDA Funding Available to Organizations Helping Veterans, Non-traditional Farmers Get into Agriculture

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making up to $22.3 million available to fund efforts that help non-traditional farmers and veterans in Minnesota and across the country get into agriculture. “Too often, Minnesota residents from communities who traditionally have not been involved in agriculture, as well as veterans, find barriers to getting into farming,” said Sen Smith. “The 2501 Program helps to remedy that, and I’m proud to champion its reauthorization in the Senate. These funds are available to groups, organizations, and higher education institutions that want to assist them in getting started.

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar, Tina Smith Announce Federal Funding to Identify, Replace Minnesota’s Lead Pipes

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith (both D-Minn.) announced Minnesota will receive historic funding to identify and replace lead pipes across the state. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, drinking, breathing, eating or touching food, water and other materials that contain lead can damage the brain, kidneys, and nervous system. In children, lead can also slow development or cause learning, behavior, and hearing problems. Minnesota is receiving a total of $86,566,000 from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which Klobuchar and Smith helped pass, to support the Biden Administration’s goal of replacing every lead pipe in America. “Lead

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Announces $1.2 Million in Federal Funding to Support Training, Employment Services to Young People; Increase Apprenticeships in High-Demand Careers in Beltrami and Cass Counties

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) announced a significant investment in the Bi-County Community Action Programs Inc. (BI-CAP) in Bemidji to empower young workers and strengthen the workforce in the region. Totaling $1,242,000 from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the grant will support training and employment services critical for preparing young people to secure well-paying jobs in high-demand industries. This is part of the Biden-Harris administration’s ongoing effort to expand access to apprenticeship opportunities and prepare young workers for quality jobs and strengthen the nation’s workforce to meet industry demands. The grant was provided by the DOL’s YouthBuild Program