The Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) is a national network of non-profit organizations working to ensure small, rural and tribal communities throughout the United States have access to resources, tools, and technical assistance, building capacity through access to safe drinking water and sanitary wastewater, economic development and other small community needs that lead to economic prosperity.
RCAP uses a locally driven multi-state approach to address various needs in rural and tribal communities, driven by the network of regional partners, who provide hands-on technical assistance and training.
Nationally, RCAP provides advocacy, partnerships, program administration, communications, education, and research on behalf of its network of community service providers. RCAP’s policy and advocacy priorities include:
Rural and Small Community Infrastructure
- Support annual appropriations to rural water and wastewater technical assistance resources available at USDA, EPA, and HHS to $75 million.
- Enact a proposal that endorses important environmental and rural priorities as well as providing investments in water and sewer infrastructure in a comprehensive infrastructure package.
- Enact $25 billion for Drinking Water Revolving Funds and $40 billion for Clean Water Infrastructure.
- Expand capacity building under EPA’s Assistance for Small & Disadvantaged Communities Drinking Water Grant Program and the Lead Testing in Schools & Child Care Facilities Program proposed in the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 (S. 3590).
- Support the Decentralized Wastewater Grant Act (H.R. 5856), which would create a new grant program under the Clean Water Act to provide funding to qualified nonprofits to help low-income households with the costs associated with proper wastewater infrastructure.
- Provide financial relief to existing small water systems by creating additional subsidies, grant assistance, debt forgiveness and loan restructuring proposed in the Reinforcing Utility Restoration After Losses Act (H.R. 7680).
- Establish a USDA RD Water and Wastewater Regionalization TA program funded at $25 million a year, which would encourage regionalization projects to attract investment and provide affordable and safe water and wastewater services.
- Authorize a targeted technical assistance program funded at $20 million to provide information, technical assistance, regulation, and financing to alleviate PFAS contamination.
- Increase the maximum amount for eligible loans to small-system USDA borrowers from $100,000 to $200,000 and increase the annual appropriation level from $1 million to $5 million.
- Create a low-income water ratepayer assistance program.
Community & Economic Development
- Support annual appropriations for the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) at the authorized level of $500 million.
- Support at least $10 million for EDA’s Research and National Technical Assistance Program (RNTA).
- Reauthorize the U.S. Economic Development Administration at $2 billion per year, including a dedicated national technical assistance program funded at $15 million.
- Support annual appropriations for the USDA Community Facilities Loan & Grant Program including funding for technical assistance and training.
- Enhance the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) Program through USDA to $10 million to fund housing, community facilities, and community and economic development projects.
- Rest ore the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) to $5 billion annually.
- Expand USDA’s Community Facilities relending program to better target persistent poverty communities.
- Establish a higher or equal amount to the FY 2020 funding level of $20.3 million for the Community Economic Development (CED) grant program through HHS’s Office of Community Services.
- Increase the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund to at least $1 billion annually.
- Expand a secondary market of loan purchases for CDFI issued loans.
- Establish a CDFI direct loan program.
- Reauthorize the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA).
- Support rural business lending programs at USDA’s Rural Business Service and at the Small Business Administration (SBA).
- Authorize a permanent small communities capacity building program at FEMA.
- Appropriate an increased amount of EDA funding towards disaster relief and recovery including capacity building.
- Permanently authorize disaster relief funds through CDBG-DR and fund a Declared Disaster Recovery Fund to be used for immediate assistance.
- Create an independent statutory authority for disaster recovery.
- This authority will allow for flexibility to meet urgent community recovery needs.
- Enact the CDFI Crisis Fund Act, which would create a $2 billion fund providing CDFI’s resources to address natural and economic disasters.
- Expand resources in support of broadband infrastructure for rural communities through pre-development and technical assistance
- Continue strong funding levels for the USDA Reconnect Program.
- Support the passing of the Rural Broadband Acceleration Act and the Universal Broadband Act of 2020.