United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) employees and community housing advocates gathered in Wilmington Wednesday morning to celebrate National Homeownership Month and to help the Kehoe family settle into their new USDA-financed home. The Kehoe family lost their home to fire in December 2014, and used a USDA direct loan to purchase their new home in April.
“The search for a safe, affordable and decent home can be difficult for working class American families, especially in tight real estate markets like Vermont,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Ted Brady. “USDA Rural Development and its partners band together to tear down barriers to homeownership. But these systems mean nothing without hardworking and resilient homebuyers like the Kehoes, who pursued the American dream with the help of friends, community members and their families after the fire.”
During Wednesday’s homeownership celebration, representatives of Windham & Windsor Housing Trust, Southeastern Vermont Community Action, and realtors from Better Homes & Gardens Masiello Group helped the Kehoe’s build a chicken coop in their new yard. The Kehoe family told the USDA loan officer that worked on their loan that they especially missed the family’s chicken coop that was lost after the fire.
The three organizations were key to helping the Kehoes find and purchase their new home. The Kehoe family participated in homeownership education at Windham & Windsor Housing Trust. They participated in Southeastern Vermont Community Action’s savings incentive program to help them save for their new home. And they worked with a local realtor to identify their new home.
The Kehoe family gained regional attention after the December 2014 fire that displaced the family of 11. Though no family members were injured at the time of the fire, they did lose their cat and their dog. In addition, they lost all of their personal belongings. Following the fire, the community rallied around the family, raising money, holding community dinners, donating clothes and providing days of service to the family.
The Kehoes, who were renting the home that burned down, had been working with USDA Rural Development at the time of the fire to find a home to purchase. Working class rural families, including low income and very low income Vermonters, can use USDA mortgage programs to purchase a home with no money down and with an effective interest rate as low as 1 percent. The Kehoe family was able to continue that search after the fire and purchase their new home in Wilmington with USDA financing.
Throughout June, USDA will celebrate National Homeownership Month with events across the nation that demonstrate the agency’s commitment to providing affordable housing opportunities for rural Americans. USDA has helped nearly 3.85 million rural residents buy homes since 1949.
To learn more about USDA’s observance of National Homeownership Month, or to learn more about USDA home loan programs, please visit rd.usda.gov/vt or call (802) 828-6000.