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Minnesota Woman with Down Syndrome Achieves Home Ownership with Recovery Funds

Posted by Adam Czech, Public Information Coordinator, USDA Rural Development-Minnesota in Initiatives Rural
Dec 11, 2009

With a lot of support from her family and financing through USDA Rural Development and the Recovery Act, Elissa Jahn is now a home owner. Check that, she is now a very proud home owner.

Elissa, a 31-year-old living with Down Syndrome, moved into her Luverne, Minn. home on April 30 and couldn’t be happier. Even though her path to home ownership was anything but traditional, Elissa has embraced all aspects of home ownership.

When Eilssa was diagnosed with Down Syndrome at birth, her parents David and Gail were advised by doctors to institutionalize her.  Instead they enrolled her in an early intervention program. The program played a major role in shaping who Elissa is today and helped her overcome the obstacles in her life caused by Down Syndrome.

Unfortunately, Down Syndrome hasn’t been the only challenge in Elissa’s life. She also had two holes in her heart when she was born and underwent open-heart surgery. She survived a bout with Leukemia at age five and recently had cataract surgery. Elissa is a fighter, and she’s not afraid to tell others about it: “I know I am. And I was born with Down Syndrome too,” she proudly says.

David and Gail help out around the home as much as they can, but Elissa makes it clear that it’s her house.   It was Elissa who picked out paint colors, did the majority of the unpacking, and arranged the furniture. She also does her own cooking, laundry, bill paying and works at a local business.  “We are thrilled that this is working out for her,” said her father. “With the USDA program it is almost cheaper than renting an apartment.  She values her independence.  When she moved in, she had a cat.  Now she has a puppy, too.”

The Jahn’s began to research the possibility of home ownership for Eilssa when renting an apartment continued to become less cost efficient. A local bank referred the Jahn’s to Kathy Smit at Rural Development’s office in Worthington, Minnesota and the home-buying process began. Elissa’s loan was made using Rural Development’s direct home loan program through funds made available in the Recovery Act.

“I love my house very much,” Elissa said. “I’m really thankful that I was able to buy this house.”

Category/Topic: Initiatives Rural