The National Association of Counties (NACO) has adopted a new homestead act to encourage people to move to high outmigration counties such as Wallowa County.
It is encouraging the U.S. Congress to adopt its drafted act which would provide tax incentives, student loan forgiveness and access to private capital to people who move to and work in rural counties suffering from outmigration.
Aware of a national problem which is seeing rural citizens moving into urban settings for increased job opportunities, NACO's New Homestead Economic Opportunity Act - in ways parelleling the 1862 Homestead Act which gave land away to people willing to settle in new territories - would forgive up to 50 percent of college loans up to a $10,000 maximum to people moving to and working in an outmigration county for a period of five years. Benefits would also include a $5,000 tax credit for the purchase of a new home. The Act would also create a $3 billion New Homestead Venture Capital Fund and create rural investment tax credits.
NACO has no power to enforce its Act, but will apply its lobbying powers to get it passed.