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Traveling Across the Great Plains of South Dakota

By Tammi Schone, USDA Rural Development Public Affairs Specialist, South Dakota State Office

South Dakota State Director Elsie M. Meeks and Don Harris, Outreach Initiative Team Leader, National Office (Washington, DC) logged over 1,400 miles traveling across the state in mid June, reaching out to local residents to talk about how our programs help repair homes, make homes more energy efficient, and locate an affordable housing residence or safe and sanitary housing apartment building we helped fund.  In addition, they participated in the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Housing Fair held in Sisseton, SD. While promoting the vital importance of homeownership in a community, they were able to witness firsthand the integrity, dedication, hard work and perseverance homeowners possess in vying for their first home, making repairs, or acquiring an apartment.

For instance, the Ted and Kellie Baker family had dreamed of owning a home.  With the assistance of USDA Rural Development, Neighbor Works, South Dakota Housing Development Authority, GAP financing, and Dakota Land Trust, the Baker’s dream became reality.

“Homeownership is an integral part of rural communities.  It provides stability, self-worth, and comfort to individuals who are pursuing the American dream of homeownership,” said Rural Development State Director Elsie M. Meeks.  “The Baker family exemplify the commitment the Obama Administration has made to bring resources to rural America to provide decent, affordable housing to those who need it.”

“I never thought that we would be able to live in such a nice home without breaking the bank,” said homeowner Kellie Baker.  “When we found out that Rural Development could give us such a great rate, we were ecstatic!  The process was simple.  There were people that helped us every step of the way, which ultimately made it easy for us.”

In conjunction with the many Homeownership Month 2010 activities held across the state, South Dakota USDA Rural Development signed Cooperative Packaging Agreements with two partners—NeighborWorks Dakota Home Resources based in Deadwood, SD and Northeast South Dakota Community Action Partnership (NESDCAP) based in Sisseton, SD—to  provide mortgage loan packaging services for the Section 502 Direct loan program.  The agreements will provide loan packaging assistance to targeted persistent poverty and traditionally underserved counties in South Dakota.

We rely on partners such as NeighborWorks and NESDCAP every day in an effort to assist families, especially those who may have difficulty with securing a conventional loan.  USDA Rural Development offers the best program options on the market today and this has made for a perfect partnership with these entities.

Ted and Kellie baker standing on the deck of their new home.

Ted and Kellie baker standing on the deck of their new home.

Joy McCracken – NeighborWorks Executive Director signs the Cooperative Packaging Agreement while State Director Elsie M. Meeks and Don Harris – Outreach Initiative Team Leader (USDA Rural Development National Office – Washington, DC) look on.

Joy McCracken – NeighborWorks Executive Director signs the Cooperative Packaging Agreement while State Director Elsie M. Meeks and Don Harris – Outreach Initiative Team Leader (USDA Rural Development National Office – Washington, DC) look on.


left to right back row Shawn Rost – 1st Interstate Bank President, Deadwood (Vice President of NeighborWorks Board), Don Harris – Outreach Initiative Team Leader, USDA Rural Development (Washington, DC), Rod Galland – Impact Designs/CEO (NeighborWorks – Treasurer), Tom Adams – Attorney (Neighborworks Board Member); front row left to right Rural Development State Director Elsie M. Meeks, Joy McCracken – NeighborWorks Executive Director, Pat Asmussen – NeighborWorks Board Member, Tom Griffith – TDG Communications CEO (NeighborWorks Board Member).

Left to right back row Shawn Rost – 1st Interstate Bank President, Deadwood (Vice President of NeighborWorks Board), Don Harris – Outreach Initiative Team Leader, USDA Rural Development (Washington, DC), Rod Galland – Impact Designs/CEO (NeighborWorks – Treasurer), Tom Adams – Attorney (Neighborworks Board Member); front row left to right Rural Development State Director Elsie M. Meeks, Joy McCracken – NeighborWorks Executive Director, Pat Asmussen – NeighborWorks Board Member, Tom Griffith – TDG Communications CEO (NeighborWorks Board Member).



One Response to “Traveling Across the Great Plains of South Dakota”

  1. OldSarg says:

    If the family didn’t have the where-with-all to save up for a down payment on their own what makes Rural Development sure that this family will be successful homeowners? haven’t we learned anything from our present housing debacle?

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