When Kayla Bruce relocated from Florida with her three daughters, now 14, 11 and 2, she moved her family into a two-bedroom apartment in the north central community of Leola. Over the past two years, she got involved in the community and her daughters into sports. But as time passed, she had one goal left to achieve: buying her first home.
“Being a single mom with lower income, I didn’t think purchasing a home was going to be possible,” said Kayla. “I knew it would be harder to get approved, and even if I did, it probably wouldn’t have been enough to get the home I have now.”
It’s why we’re here
Roxanne Woodring, Rural Development’s Single Family Housing Loan Specialist, said sometimes you need to go the extra mile to help a family get into their new home. “It’s why we’re here. It’s not always an easy process, and it isn’t always so cut and dry,” said Roxanne. “I knew we had partners out there that could help secure some additional financing to make this dream a reality for Kayla and her daughters.”
It’s those partners that have helped numerous families like the Bruce’s find and afford a home in rural South Dakota. Thanks to the teams at Grow South Dakota (GrowSD), Homes Are Possible, Inc (HAPI), and Aberdeen Housing Authority, Kayla found a place to call home.
Aberdeen Housing Authority's Executive Director Jody Zueger also appreciates the partnership with Rural Development. "Without their financing programs, our program would not have been so successful," said Jody.
Brenda Waage from GROW South Dakota said Kayla's mortgage was more affordable because these groups work together closely. "Kayla is able to provide a safe home to raise her daughters and in an inviting, safe community in rural South Dakota because of the work we all do as partners."
Mary Beth Townsend joined HAPI seven years ago and is thrilled when HAPI is able to help another homeowner. "It's why we're here. We're here to help the people that need it most and Kayla is so deserving of this investment," said Mary. "The partnership with Rural Development is such a gift and our programs all benefit from working together."
The home Kayla found was built in the early 1900s. She said it needed some updates before she could finalize the purchase, and the previous owner was quick to address those issues to make the home safe for her family. “There were some electrical, plumbing and air conditioner repairs that needed to be done, and the porch needed to be rebuilt,” said Kayla. “But the updates were addressed so quickly. It’s just another way people go the extra mile to make things happen.”
Roxanne said these programs combined to help future homeowners isn’t a handout, it’s a hand-up. “The relationships we have with them helps make each program stronger,” said Roxanne. “Our rural homeowners deserve the opportunity to create additional stability for their families.”
It’s the people
“It just wouldn’t have been possible if Roxanne hadn’t put me in touch with those groups,” said Kayla. “And it’s more than the organizations. It’s the people. Whether it was Roxanne explaining everything step-by-step, the staff at GrowSD providing the education to help me better understand homebuying, or the folks at HAPI making me feel like a priority. Without these people, I wouldn’t be in this home today.”
Kayla is excited to be a part of the Leola community. Her daughters have been involved in volleyball, track and baseball and they love the school where they’ve made some great friends. “Leola has been so welcoming. As I got involved in the community, I saw just how much this town is one big family,” said Kayla. “I know I have people I can rely on, which just wasn’t the same when we were in Florida.”
She said it has been such a relief to finally be a homeowner. Her daughters are proud of what they have and they’re excited to invite friends over. They now call Leola home and the house they financed through USDA Rural Development will provide the stability her family will enjoy for years to come.