Bob and Mary Ann have lived in the same home for over 55 years. The couple raised their six children here and they all attended the same school in Herreid. But over the years the home has needed updates and eventually those updates were too difficult for Bob and Mary Ann to take on alone.
“Our kids used to come home to help paint or fix things, but they all have families now so it has gotten harder for them to come work on it,” said Mary Ann.
Thanks to the help of Herreid Area Housing Development, Rural Development’s Single Family Housing Repair Loans & Grants program, also known as 504 Home Repair Loan and Grant programs, and Homes Are Possible Inc’s (HAPI) Federal Home Loan Bank grant, the Volk’s replaced aging windows and doors with high-efficiency models, the original siding was updated to a low maintenance siding, and new insulation was installed throughout the home.
The couple is only responsible for a $34.49-per-month loan. Bob said their utility bill has gone down more than this amount because of the energy efficient improvements.
Dick Werner is the president of Herreid Area Housing Development. He recognized the need within Herreid to improve housing conditions throughout the community.
“We’re only a town of 400 with 225 homes,” said Dick. “We had a housing shortage and saw families leaving just to find a place to live.” Herreid has the only school left in Campbell County. With an enrollment of 109 students, the community’s housing needs were a driving factor in families moving away.
"Not only have we created affordable housing, but we’re seeing businesses thrive."
But he said while many homes existed, the conditions had deteriorated beyond livable. The community formed the Herreid Area Housing Development in 2016 to combat the issue. The group now oversees the remodel of existing homes, construction of new homes, and multi-family housing to create affordable housing for families moving to the small, rural community.
“We’ve now seen our school enrollment increase to 140 students and the school expects that to grow by another 10 students next year,” said Dick. “Not only have we created affordable housing, but we’re seeing businesses thrive. We’ve even reopened the local grocery store.”
Darin Beckius, HAPI’s Executive Director, credits the great partnership between Herreid, Rural Development and HAPI as one of the reasons Herreid is thriving as a community.
“When you have people like Dick looking over the community, identifying areas that are in need of repair, and coordinating with our organizations and local contractors, you see results much quicker,” said Darin. “The contractors know their going to get paid for the work they’re doing, and they have a local connection with someone who knows the community, knows the homeowners. That’s what makes this partnership work.”
Dick and his team work hard to use local contractors and businesses, which helps boost the local economy. “It’s for the greater good of the community,” said Dick. “This all comes together to help people who would maybe never own a home.”
He credits the HAPI and Rural Development staff and their programs for helping make these needed repairs possible. “Not only are they helping this family, but when the next family moves in, they don’t have to worry about fixing it up,” Dick said.
Darin said HAPI is involved from the very start. HAPI’s Home Repair Coordinator, Hope Brudvig, is involved from the very start of the contact between Dick and local homeowners. “Dick helps the homeowner navigate the paperwork and Hope makes sure nothing is missed,” said Darin. “We have a great partnership between him and Rural Development. It really makes the process go smoothly.”
"We're very glad we did it."
As for the Volks, they’re thankful for these programs. “When we were first asked if we wanted to use the loans and grants to fix our home we said no,” said Mary Ann. “Then a year later we decided we couldn’t afford it without their help.”
“We’re very glad we did it,” said Bob. “Our house is old but very solid. We just couldn’t keep up on the maintenance anymore.”
“It’s so nice now,” added Mary Ann. “Our kids keep asking for photos because they’re so impressed with how it turned out.”
The couple was quick to point out how much the community has improved over the past seven years. “We drive around, see a lot of new faces, fixed up homes,” said Mary Ann. “We’re so blessed to have these great organizations helping our small town. I’d tell anyone to use these programs. It’s worth it.”
Rural Development offers many programs to help rural homeowners. To learn more about these programs, visit Single Family Housing Programs | Rural Development (usda.gov) or contact our Single Family Housing program staff at SFHDirectSD@usda.gov.