Last week, Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and I had the pleasure of meeting Kelly Hench, a single Mom of five whom, thanks to the recovery act, was able to move her kids to a home in a nice development just outside of Carlisle, PA.
Prior to finding out about the USDA Direct Home Loan program, Kelly and the kids, ranging in ages from 1-15, were renting a small townhome. Shortly after purchasing the bi-level home in Carlisle, the new homeowner converted the lower level into bedrooms for herself and the youngest of her five children. The other children all have their own rooms for the first time. She is currently renovating the kitchen and preparing to buy new appliances. Kelly is among more than 2,290 rural Pennsylvania residents who have received home loans as a result of Recovery Act funds during FY 2009.
Standing in front of the Hench family holiday tree, Deputy Secretary Merrigan made the announcement that 84,021 rural families have become homeowners so far as a result of USDA funding provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Earlier in the day, the Deputy Secretary attended the Homes Within Reach 2009 Conference, sponsored by the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania.
During her remarks to the group, she underscored the Obama Administration’s commitment to strengthening the nation’s economy through financially responsible housing and homeownership programs, administered through USDA Rural Development. She also discussed the direction of USDA housing policy as well as the challenges and opportunities faced by rural housing providers. Deputy Secretary Merrigan was joined at the conference by Fred Karnas Jr., Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Meeting families who are directly benefiting from the recovery act is one of the best parts of my job. We celebrated a milestone in providing funds to homebuyers last week. But, more importantly, we were able to take part in the family’s joy of celebrating the holidays in a new home.
Thomas P. Williams, Pennsylvania State Director, USDA Rural Development