United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials, representatives from Tri-County Community Action, local elected officials, and others celebrated National Homeownership Month Friday with new Berlin resident James Hills. Hills, a Navy and Army National Guard veteran, purchased his home in January with a USDA mortgage. He is currently making improvements to the home using a USDA grant.
“Homeownership is good for the homeowner, good for the community and good for our economy,” said USDA Rural Development New Hampshire and Vermont State Director Ted Brady. “USDA strives to help working class rural Americans find affordable and safe places to call home. We could not accomplish that without partners like Tri-County Community Action, the State of New Hampshire, local realtors and other private businesses.”
More than two dozen volunteers spent Friday working with Mr. Hills to help turn his house into a home. USDA Rural Development employees, Tri-County Community Action employees, local and state office holders, and others helped paint Mr. Hills home, install a new wood pellet stove, install energy efficient lighting, replace windows, upgrade wiring and plant a garden.
New Hampshire organizations and local business provided more than $22,000 in grants and donations to help Mr. Hills settle into his new home. In addition to USDA and Tri-County Community Action, grants and donations came from Home Depot, the New Hampshire Department of Energy, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, Eversource, private individuals and Sherwin Williams.
Hills purchased his home earlier this year using a USDA Rural Development 502 direct loan. The loan program allows low-income rural families to obtain a 30-year or longer mortgage with no money down at a fixed interest rate of 3.25 percent or lower.
In addition, USDA Rural Development provided Hills with a $7,500 repair grant to make necessary health and safety improvements to the home. This grant was combined with weatherization and energy efficiency incentives from other partners.
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 more than $210 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 at www.rd.usda.gov/nh or call (603) 223-6035.