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USDA Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Celebrates National Homeownership Month

Delane Johnson
Release Date
Jun 23, 2014

USDA Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Patrice Kunesh today celebrated National Homeownership Month with families who have become homeowners through USDA’s Self-Help Housing program.

“USDA has partnered with the Housing Assistance Corporation to make homeownership a reality for families in Edneyville’s Hillcrest subdivision,” Kunesh said. “Owning a home is part of the American Dream and often represents the single largest investment a person will make. These homes are proof that great things can be accomplished by working together. I am very honored and proud to meet these families and help celebrate their success.”

June is National Homeownership Month. Throughout the month, USDA is celebrating the accomplishments of rural families and individuals who are working their way into the American Dream by investing in a home of their own. The theme for year’s commemorative activities is Own Your Home. Own Your Future. For families like those in Edneyville, homeownership can help create long-term financial stability and security.

Since 2009, USDA Rural Development has helped more than 40,000 rural North Carolina families become homeowners, including 25 through the Self-Help program. It requires participants to devote “sweat equity” toward the construction of their homes. Aspiring homeowners apply through a local non-profit group to see if they are eligible for a USDA housing loan. Once approved, they work in groups to help build each other’s homes. No family can move into the development or subdivision until every home is ready for occupancy.

The Housing Assistance Corporation (HAC), founded in 1988, is a private, non-profit group committed to providing housing services to families in western North Carolina. Services include emergency home repair, apartment rentals, owner-built housing, farm labor housing, rehabilitation, down payment assistance, home-ownership education and counseling.

Following her visit in Edneyville, Kunesh toured downtown Hendersonville with HAC Executive Director Noelle McKay. One of the highlights of the walking tour was the 2014 Bearfootin’ Bears display. The Housing Assistance Council’s Barefootin’ Bear is one of 20 bears displayed this year as part of the annual “Bearfootin’ Public Art Walk. The art walk raises funds for historic downtown Hendersonville and local non-profit groups. The bears will be auctioned this fall. The proceeds will go to the non-profit groups the bears represent.

The Obama Administration housing’s policies are helping to strengthen rural communities and the overall rural economy. In 2013, USDA helped more than 170,000 rural residents become homeowners, investing more than $23.4 billion in loans, grants and technical assistance to provide affordable, safe housing for rural families. In both people served and dollars, 2013 was the most successful year in the history of USDA single-family housing programs.