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USDA Programs Provide Home Ownership Opportunities

Vicki Schurman
Release Date

USDA Rural Development has been successful in helping rural Nebraska residents realize the American dream of homeownership. While most Americans are familiar with USDA, many may not know that the Department helps provide homeownership and home repair assistance to citizens living in rural communities.

Since 1979, Rural Development in Nebraska has helped more than 23,400 families become homeowners and has provided more than $1.38 billion of home loans in the state through its guaranteed rural housing and Direct loan programs.  For Fiscal Year 2014, USDA Rural Development in Nebraska has more than $120 million available to finance home loan purchases in rural communities.  Homes must be located in rural communities.  All communities in Nebraska are eligible for housing programs with the exceptions of Fremont, Grand Island, Hastings, Kearney, Lincoln, North Platte, Omaha and South Sioux City/Dakota City.

Timothy Miller, a visually impaired US Army veteran, had been renting for 17 years.  His living arrangements were cramped and less than ideal. The Norfolk Habitat for Humanity had a newly rehabilitated home and USDA Rural Development Direct loan program, along with other partnerships, provided 100 percent financing that allowed Timothy to purchase the new home and keep his mortgage payments comparable to what he was previously paying for rent.  Miller is excited about his new home.  “I had one goal in my life and it consisted of getting myself a home,” Miller said. “I’m so happy that if I danced, I’d do an Irish jig.”

USDA Rural Development has two loan programs that provide 100% financing for home purchases at affordable rates and terms.  For the Direct Loan program, applicants can pre-qualify with USDA Rural Development by contacting its offices across the state.  Rural Development offers a fixed 3.75 percent interest rate for 33 years, but additional subsidies may be available, making interest rates as low as one percent for eligible low income applicants.

With the Guaranteed Rural Housing (GRH) loan program, clients work with approved traditional mortgage lenders, and interest rates have typically been less than 4.75 percent.  Funding for the guarantee program is budget neutral, meaning it does not rely on taxpayer dollars. Eligibility is based on income, acceptable credit and repayment ability.

Glenn and Liz Taylor wanted to raise their boys in McCook, NE, where Glenn had been a lifelong resident.  They started looking for a larger home with a big back yard where the boys could play.  Their loan officer at AmFirst Bank in McCook identified USDA Rural Development’s Guarantee program as a good financial fit for the Taylor family and they were able to purchase a home to meet their needs.  Liz said, “What sold me most on the house was everything--the way the boys reacted to it and the feeling we got just by walking inside.” 

You can visit the Agency eligibility website at http://eligibility.sc.egov.usda.gov to find out if your income is within the program limits based on household size and county and if the property is in an eligible rural area.

Rural housing not only provides safe homes for families, but also generates economic activity in construction, realty, banking, title and insurance, and home furnishing sales.  Local hhousing provides communities with an adequate tax base and a local workforce, as well as attracting businesses and reducing energy costs from commuting.

Households interested in homeownership opportunities are encouraged to contact their local USDA Rural Development office or visit the agency website at www.rurdev.usda.gov/ne for additional program information.

President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.