The nation’s top rural housing chief, Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez, celebrated National Homeownership Month Tuesday with the Collins family of Colchester. Dawn Pearce-Collins and her husband Herbert Collins purchased their Colchester home this year using the United States Department of Agriculture’s direct loan program.
“USDA’s housing loan programs put homeownership within reach of hundreds of Vermonters each year – helping to build stronger rural communities, create jobs, and build equity,” said Hernandez.
During Tuesday’s celebration, Hernandez joined USDA Rural Development team members and other non-profit housing partners in a day of service to the Collins family. USDA officials, representatives from the Champlain Housing Trust and staff from the Vermont State Housing Authority cleaned up the Collins’ yard, planted a garden and helped make minor repairs to the Collins’ new home.
USDA Rural Development’s direct loan program gives working-class rural American’s the ability to purchase a home with no down payment with a fixed, long-term interest rate. USDA Rural Development’s guaranteed loan program provides a guarantee to private lenders that make no down payment home loans to moderate income home buyers.
Hernandez said the Collins success story was made possible thanks to partnerships with Champlain Housing Trust’s NeighborWorks Homeownership Center, with local organizations like the Vermont State Housing Authority, and with the help of a local realtor, Eric Jarvis of Keller Williams Realty.
Pearce-Collins and Collins started working with Champlain Housing Trust through the Ready, Set, Rent program two years ago. Ready, Set, Rent helps people overcome credit barriers to renting an apartment – skills the Collins family translated to becoming ready to buy their own home. They attended classes, set goals and met with a CHT housing counselor to prepare for homeownership.
The Collins worked with the Vermont State Housing Authority to convert their rental assistance into a homeownership voucher – an innovative program that allows a family to pursue homeownership with mortgage payment assistance.
The Collins have three children. Dawn has worked at Walmart since 2012 and Herbert has worked at Hannafords since 2012.
During 2014, USDA Rural Development invested nearly $100 million to help more than 600 working-class Vermont families like the Collins purchase or repair their homes.
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 or to apply for a home loan visit the Vermont Rural Development website (www.rd.usda.gov/vt) or contact USDA RD at (802) 828-6000.