USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer today kicked off National Homeownership Month by visiting new homeowner Patty Baldwin in Lonsdale, Minn. and highlighting the importance of affordable housing opportunities in rural areas.
“Providing safe, affordable homes in rural areas is essential to the growth and continued development of rural communities,” Landkamer said. “Each year, USDA celebrates National Homeownership Month by recognizing the individuals and families who have achieved homeownership, and the various partnerships of the many organizations that have worked with us to continue to make rural housing affordable.”
USDA builds strong relationships with lenders, home builders, realtors, community development organizations, non-profits and housing finance authorities to provide homeownership opportunities to very-low, low- and moderate-income individuals in rural areas.
For example, through a unique partnership with Rice County Habitat for Humanity, USDA was able to help Patty Baldwin achieve homeownership at a rate that was affordable for her through the Single Family Housing Direct Loan program.
Rice County Habitat had built the house in 2010 and acquired the title back to it in 2015, just when Baldwin was looking for a home in Lonsdale. The house was at a price point that was she was looking for, and it brought the full selling price to Habitat for Humanity in cash at the time of closing through her loan with Rural Development. Habitat will be able to use that money to continue to build more houses throughout Rice County.
“This was a win-win partnership for Habitat and Patricia,” Rice County Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Dayna Norvold said. “We couldn’t be more thrilled that we have another proud homeowner through this partnership with Habitat and Rural Development.”
Landkamer visited Baldwin in her new home to recognize her achievement with USDA’s 2016 Homeowner of the Year award. Landkamer also discussed the importance that partnerships have in making these achievements a possibility and recognized Rice County Habitat with USDA’s 2016 Outstanding Housing Partner award for helping USDA bring affordable housing to rural individuals and families in southeastern Minnesota.
Since 2009, USDA has invested $4.2 billion to support rural homeownership throughout Minnesota. In 2015 alone, USDA invested nearly $537 million to help over 4,100 rural individuals and families buy and maintain homes.
The Single Family Housing Direct Loan program helps applicants like Patty Baldwin achieve homeownership at an affordable rate through payment assistance. Payment assistance increases an applicant’s repayment ability through determination by the adjusted family income.
USDA’s Guaranteed Loan program increases access to mortgage financing in rural communities by offering approved lenders a 90 percent loan guarantee to offset their risk if a borrower defaults. By partnering with approved public and private lenders, more than one million low- to moderate-income families have bought and refinanced homes in rural America through this program during the Obama Administration. The program requires no down payment from the applicant, offers a fixed interest rate, and has a 30-year loan term.
The Department recently announced a series of changes that will make it faster and more affordable for rural homeowners with USDA-backed mortgages to refinance their loans and save money with a lower interest rate. The changes take effect June 2. Interested homeowners with USDA loan guarantees should contact their lender about refinance procedures. Homeowners with mortgages through USDA’s Direct Loan program should contact a USDA housing specialist.
In addition to mortgage financing, USDA provides grants and loans to help rural homeowners make improvements or repairs, such as removing health and safety hazards or making accessibility modifications for people with disabilities.
USDA employees will celebrate National Homeownership Month throughout June with events across the nation that demonstrate the commitment to provide access to affordable housing for low- and moderate-income rural residents. To learn more about USDA’s observance of National Homeownership Month, please visit our Facebook page or contact our State Office in St. Paul at 651-602-7786.