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Reflecting on the American Dream

Posted by USDA Rural Development Virginia State Director, Basil Gooden, PhD in Rural
Jul 19, 2016
Rural Development Virginia State Director Basil Gooden (left) and RHS Administrator Tony Hernandez (right) with Alias and Ansam Khader
Rural Development Virginia State Director Basil Gooden (left) and RHS Administrator Tony Hernandez (right) present Alias and Ansam Khader (and their adorable daughter) the symbolic key to their new home.

Last month, I had the privilege of witnessing the American dream come to life for a Rockingham, Virginia family who has just purchased and built their first home with the help of a USDA Rural Development (RD) direct low-interest loan. It was an honor to help Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez, Virginia Rural Development employees and local officials welcome Alias and Ansam Khader and their three children to their newly constructed home, which we did via a key presentation ceremony on the family’s new front porch.

Prior to the ceremony, I had the opportunity to spend time with the Khaders as they graciously took me and others on a tour of the house. They shared with us stories of their journey to this special day and visions of their bright future. I quickly learned that the Khaders were a remarkable family, having overcome extraordinary circumstances.

Alias Khader told me that it has been six years since he and his family came to the United States from Iraq as refugees. Gripping the ceremonial key with pride that day, he said, “We will now look to the future.”

Thus far in Fiscal Year 2016, USDA Rural Development has worked with 12 homebuyers and 49 lenders in Rockingham County to invest more than $9.5 million in helping families find homes. In Fiscal Year 2015, USDA Rural Development provided more than 4,000 home loans and grants totaling more than $600 million for Virginia residents. Since 1949, USDA has helped nearly 4 million rural residents across the United States buy homes.

I believe that when a family achieves the dream of homeownership, it lays the groundwork for entire communities to move toward growth and development. Homeownership is essential to building a strong foundation in rural America because it helps people build household wealth, start new businesses, fund education through home equity, and climb ladders of economic opportunity.

That is why National Homeownership Month is such a significant time of year here. In June, we are able to reflect on the valuable role homeownership plays in rural communities and celebrate the stories of families across the nation who have achieved the American dream.

Category/Topic: Rural