Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

USDA Partners To Increase Housing Availability in Fayette County, Pennsylvania

Grant Awarded Under the Single Family Housing Self-Help Technical Assistance Program

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) State Director Bob Morgan announced that the Department has partnered with Threshold Housing Development Inc. to invest $470,000 to help meet the demands of the growing housing needs in rural Pennsylvania.

“Rural America is a place everyone can call home,” Morgan said. “Expanding opportunities for homeownership strengthens rural communities and helps families and individuals build wealth and achieve financial stability. Well-built, energy efficient, affordable housing is essential to the vitality of communities in rural America.”

This Rural Development investment will be used for the completion of seven new homes and nine acquisition rehabs.

The technical assistance grant will work in conjunction with USDA’s 502 Self-Help Program, which assists low and very low-income families to obtain affordable housing through new construction or acquisition rehab.

Families choosing new construction will receive on-site technical support from Threshold Housing Development, Inc., and work together mutually with other families in the program, providing 65% of the construction labor to build their homes. By participating in the construction process, these families will realize significant cost savings, enabling them to own a brand-new home with an affordable mortgage payment.

With Threshold’s guidance, families opting for acquisition rehab will purchase and rehab their own homes. They’ll learn to evaluate the scope of rehab work that potential houses require, as well as receive training, monitoring, and assistance during the rehab process of the home they choose.


The Mutual Self-Help Housing Program provides grants to qualified organizations to help them carry out local self-help housing construction projects.

Through this program, USDA has worked with nearly 230 organizations to provide a unique opportunity for families and individuals to lower the overall purchase price of a new home by investing “sweat equity” into the construction.

Since its inception in 1966, the program has helped nearly 56,000 families build their own affordable and safe homes. Through this program, the Biden-Harris Administration has partnered with community organizations to help 261 families and individuals in socially vulnerable communities build their own homes.

USDA Accepting Applications for Placemaking Cooperative Agreements to Spur Economic Growth and Community Development in Rural America

The Department Increases Total Funding to Up to $4 Million to Help More Rural and Tribal Communities Access Placemaking Assistance

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small announced that USDA is accepting applications for cooperative agreements to help eligible entities provide planning, training and technical assistance to foster placemaking activities in rural and Tribal communities.

The funds are being made available through the Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge (RPIC). USDA is increasing RPIC funding to up to $4 million to assist more rural communities access placemaking assistance. The previous funding level was $3 million.

Today, USDA is inviting eligible entities to apply for up to $250,000 to help rural and Tribal communities create plans to enhance capacity for high-speed internet access; preserve cultural and historic structures; and support development in transportation, housing and recreational spaces.

This technical assistance will help communities convene partners and identify community needs to develop placemaking plans. These plans will help rural areas build back better and stronger. The entities must support participating rural communities for up to two years.

Learn more about this USDA Stakeholder Announcement.

Pennsylvania State Data Center Releases Updated Data, Reports

Detailed Population Estimates Released 

The U.S. Census Bureau has released the 2021 Detailed Nation, State, and County Population Estimates, the final set of detailed population estimates for this vintage. The July 1, 2021 data provide estimates at the nation, state, and county level for population by age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin.

To read more, visit:

Post-Census Group Quarters Review Operation Launched 

The U.S. Census Bureau began mailing approximately 40,000 eligible governmental units at the tribal, state, and local levels about participating in the 2020 Post-Census Group Quarters Review (PCGQR) operation. The 2020 PCGQR is a new, one-time operation that was created in response to public feedback received on the Count Question Resolution operation about counting group quarters’ populations during the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Group quarters are defined as places where people live or stay in a group living arrangement that is owned or managed by an organization providing housing and other services for the residents. Group quarters include such places as college residence halls, residential treatment centers, skilled nursing facilities, group homes, military barracks, prisons, and worker dormitories. Heads of eligible governments received notice about this program which opened June 6 2022 and ends June 30, 2023.

This program is different from the Census Count Question Resolution program (CQR).  For more information on this program and data for you community visit our CQR StoryMap.  Contact us with any questions.

Post Enumeration Survey Results 

A new Report shows Pennsylvania is 1 of 37 states that did not have estimated statistically significant undercounts or overcounts.  Results of the Post Enumeration Survey were released this month identifying 14 states (or state equivalents) estimated to have had an undercount or overcount – a net coverage error statistically different from zero.

Pennsylvania had a 0.48 percent overcount (not statistically different from zero) in 2020. This is consistent with results from previous decades which showed a 0.14 percent overcount in 2010 and a 0.95 percent undercount in 2000.

Pennsylvania Municipal Population Estimates

With the release of the 2021 municipal total population estimates in May we learned a total of 702 municipalities in Pennsylvania experienced an increase in population between 2020 and 2021. A total of 111 municipalities were population neutral between 2020 and 2021 while 1,759 municipalities decline in total population.

For more details visit:

Academy of Pediatrics Solicits Input into Oral Health Direction

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Section on Oral Health is asking stakeholders to complete a survey on the effectiveness of oral health initiatives/Campaign for Dental Health, priorities for future directions, and resources needed to improve management of oral health promotion, disease prevention, and early childhood caries. The AAP seeks to strengthen oral health initiatives:

  1.  In the wake of the pandemic.
  2. As part of the AAP Equity Agenda
  3. Because children continue to see a pediatric or primary care provider or other trusted community member long before they see a dental professional and during the years in which prevention of dental disease is optimal.

The survey deadline is July 15.

Click here to complete the survey.

Update on Pennsylvania Regulatory Exceptions and Act 17 Provisions: EMS Information Bulletin 2022-08

From the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Bureau of Emergency Medical Services

This EMS Information Bulletin (EMS-IB) supersedes all previously published EMS-IBs related to COVID-19 exemptions as a result of the Disaster Declaration or continuance thereof.

Effective at 11:59 pm June 30, 2022, all regulatory exceptions issued as part of the COVID-19 disaster declaration will expire. This means that all crews must meet legal staffing standards as of July 1, 2022. Any agency that is currently using out-of-state providers to fulfill staffing requirements must immediately stop the use of these providers effective 11:59 pm, June 30, 2022.

However, the Bureau of EMS (Bureau) recognizes the need to evaluate staffing models and has reviewed all authorities granted to the Bureau. As such the Bureau is authorizing all Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulances in the Commonwealth to staff utilizing the provisions of Act 17 of 2020 without making application to the Department, utilizing the provisions outlined below.

Act 17 of 2020 amended the EMS Systems Act to permit the Department of Health (Department) to grant exceptions to the ambulance staffing standard for Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulances.

Pursuant to the Act, exceptions were only to be granted in cases where there were extraordinary reasons and in the best interest of the EMS system and patient care.

On July 6, 2020 the Bureau of EMS (Bureau) issued EMSIB 2020-27 Act 17 of 2020 BLS Ambulance Staffing Exceptions. This document established the general criteria and process for staffing waiver applications.

Despite the termination of the declaration of disaster emergency, the Department finds the continued effects of COVID-19 as well as staffing shortages are impacting the overall EMS system and constitute an extraordinary circumstance.

As a result, and in the best interest of the EMS system the Department is issuing the following staffing exception in accordance with its authority outlined in Act 17 of 2020.

Exception 1:
At the time of patient transport, a BLS ambulance must be operated by a certified Emergency Medical Services Vehicle Operator (EMSVO), and the patient must be attended by an EMS provider at or above the level of an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).  This exception is effective immediately and will remain in effect until this EMS-IB is superseded or voided by the Department.

Please direct any questions regarding this memo to your regional council.

A New Article About Providing Quality Care in High-Risk Pregnancies

A recent article in the Patient Safety and Quality Insider newsletter highlights a health system model developed as a result of a national study of women aged 18 to 44 showing that complicated pregnancies are growing more prevalent in the United States, rising by 16.4% from 2014 to 2018. The same study, which looked at 1.8 million pregnancies, revealed that childbirth complications increased by about 14% from 2014 to 2018.

Listen to a New Podcast Here: Rx for the Rural Healthcare Workforce and Access to Care

In 2021, only 12% of physicians practiced in rural areas yet 20% of the U.S. population resides in rural areas. Listen to a podcast discussion about the rural health workforce with Tom Morris, Associate Administrator of HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, and Jessica Nicholson, senior economist at The Conference Board’s Committee for Economic Development. Learn about the unique challenges rural residents face in accessing quality health care and HRSA programs that are working to increase health equity and access in rural communities. Listen for free through The Conference Board.

Doctors Push to Make Birth Control Available without Prescription

The nation’s largest physician group—the American Medical Association—is joining calls by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and others for the FDA to make birth control pills accessible over the counter. With abortion rights in flux, physicians are joining reproductive health advocates in urging increased access to oral contraceptives, which could join already approved emergency contraceptives, like Plan B, on pharmacy shelves. Read more.