Dr. Glenda Humiston, the USDA California Rural Development State Director, visited the Eastern Sierra last week to showcase the economic opportunities her offices can supply in the form of loans, loan guarantees and grants. USDA Rural Development is the lead federal agency that funds projects to bring housing, community facilities, utilities, business opportunities and other services to rural communities, according to the department’s website.
According to Humiston’s presentation, rural communities can receive assistance for projects such as community facilities, renewable energies, fire department equipment, and home purchases and upgrades.
Humiston did comment, however, that when it comes to the home purchase and upgrade assistance, “Mammoth is too rich for us [her offices],” because the town is not considered low income. Humiston admitted that the high income status can come from the skewed numbers derived from Mammoth’s high second homeowner base that throws off the lower income numbers of those who actually live and work in Mammoth full time.
“I have no idea how to calculate for that,” she said. Humiston added that not a single county in California is considered to have consistent poverty, which affects funding from Washington, D.C. for the entire state. She believed the state-wide problem could be solved by using census tracking instead of counties for allocations.
Mammoth can, however, apply for the loans that the department offers and individual businesses are more than qualified to apply for available grants. So non-profits like Sierra Bounty Produce Collective, which was specifically mentioned, could receive assistance to keep its doors open.
After giving an overview of herself last Thursday evening at the Crowley Lake Community Center, Humiston then turned the discussion on the public in attendance and asked them to introduce themself and explain why they had attended the meeting.