U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials, community leaders and housing advocates gathered at the home of Stark resident Joy Potter Friday to commemorate National Homeownership Month and to recognize the programs that support Granite State seniors. The group of volunteers performed home improvements to complement work funded by USDA Rural Development’s Home Repair Program and other community partners aimed at ensuring Potter can remain in her home.
“Seniors like Mrs. Potter are mainstays of New Hampshire’s tight-knit communities, however, their ability to continue to play their integral social role is challenged by their changing housing needs,” said Ted Brady, Vermont and New Hampshire Rural Development State Director. “Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Rural Development’s local staff, Tri- County Cap, and the local partners here in Stark, Mrs. Potter will continue as a member of the Stark community. The local, state and federal partnerships represented here today are replicated across the state as agencies and communities work together to support our community’s greatest assets, our seniors.”
The 62-year-old Potter purchased her Stark home with her husband decades ago. The house, formerly the old school house, is a historic feature in the town. Since her husband’s death, Potter has lived independently in her home, however a disability has made it difficult for Potter to maintain her independence. Potter contacted Rural Development to use the Agency’s Home Repair Program to perform accessibility upgrades in her home so that it could accommodate her as she aged.
Rural Development funded Potter’s accessibility upgrades through its Home Repair Program. Potter received a $14,999 loan and grant combination to install a chairlift to access the upper floor of her home, do accessibility upgrades to her bathroom and other needed home repairs. USDA’s Home Repair Program assisted over 100 families across New Hampshire in 2015 perform needed repairs and upgrades to ensure the health, safety and efficiency of their homes. The program offers low interest home repair loans to income qualified households, and grants to eligible senior homeowners. More information on the program can be found on Rural Development’s New Hampshire website.
In recognition of National Homeownership month, Rural Development coordinated the efforts of community partners to further improve Potter’s home through weatherization, energy and accessibility upgrades. Community donations include:
Eversource – $5,700 donation for kitchen appliances, LED lights and attic insulation.
Tri-County CAP - $1,237.90 donation to support the home improvements. The agency also contributed $375 in fuel assistance to Potter.
Keene Medical - $1,000 donation.
New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services - $1,500 for the installation of an oil tank.
New Hampshire Department of Energy - $450 to support Potter’s home.
Sherwin-Williams - $500 donation of painting supplies
Perras Ace Hardware - $350 donation of materials.
The Town of Stark, the Stark Fire Department, the Stark Heritage Center, and public and private community donors also participated in the project. The total support for this project exceeded $25,000.
At the press conference, USDA Rural Development presented RE/MAX Properties with a Gold Star award in recognition of the realty firm’s partnership with the agency. RE/MAX has worked to ensure that low-income home seekers find a path towards homeownership through referring them to Rural Development’s Direct Home Loan Program.
USDA, through its RD mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of $213 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural areas. For more information on Rural Development visit the New Hampshire Rural Development website (www.rd.usda.gov/nh) or contact USDA RD at (602) 223-6035.