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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and USDA Celebrate National Homeownership Month
WASHINGTON, May 28, 2010 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today kicked off National Homeownership Month by highlighting USDA's success in providing homeownership opportunities and safe, sanitary housing units to rural Americans.
National Homeownership Month is observed each June to raise awareness about the vital role homeownership plays in improving lives, creating jobs and economic opportunities, and strengthening America's neighborhoods.
"A strong Nation is made up of strong families, and safe, quality housing contributes greatly to rural Americans' quality of life," Vilsack said. "The Obama Administration is committed to bringing the necessary resources to rural America provide decent, affordable housing to those who need it."
This year's theme is "Protecting the American Dream." Dozens of communities across the nation have planned events and activities throughout June to highlight their role in expanding homeownership. Local communities and USDA officials will highlight the benefits of homeownership and share information on ways families can remain successful homeowners. The public will also be informed about weatherization and energy efficiency programs available to rural homeowners to increase energy efficiency, reduce health and safety risks, and improve accessibility for individuals with disabilities.
In 2009, USDA Rural Development financed more than $63.4 million in repairs for more than 5,000 rural homeowners. Also, USDA's housing programs continue to help income-eligible Americans become homeowners. USDA provided homeownership loans to more than 140,000 rural Americans in fiscal year 2009. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which President Obama signed into law in February 2009, USDA provided $10.8 billion in loans and loan guarantees to more than 87,000 home buyers. Although all available guarantee funds have been committed to loans this fiscal year, USDA continues to provide home loan funds through its direct home loan program.
For example, James Bugg formerly rented an apartment in Moberly, Mo. In 1982, he became disabled and now lives on a fixed income. He always wanted to own a home and knew about USDA Rural Development housing programs but didn't think owning a home would be possible for him because of his limited income. Last year, he completed the required homeownership courses through the NorthEast Community Action Corporation (NECAC) Homeownership Institute and with the help of a local realtor, Bugg found a home that he could afford.
In Navarre, Fla., Maria Lugo De Jesus received a single family direct loan to purchase a home in Santa Rosa County. Navarre is an unincorporated community in the Florida Panhandle, about 25 miles east of Pensacola. De Jesus, a single parent, was able to buy a home with a Rural Development loan and assistance from the Florida Housing Finance Corporation and Santa Rosa County. As a first-time homeowner, De Jesus is now able to give her family a secure place to live.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure, and facility programs through a network of 6,100 employees located in the nation's capital and 500 state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $134 billion in loans and loan guarantees.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).