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Under Secretary Says Homeownership Helps Rural Americans, Creates Jobs

Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager helps prospective homeowner Suzanne Passwaters construct floor joists at a USDA Self Help Housing site on the DelMarVa Peninsula.

Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager helps prospective homeowner Suzanne Passwaters construct floor joists at a USDA Self Help Housing site on the DelMarVa Peninsula.

June is homeownership month — an opportunity for us to highlight the important role housing plays in creating jobs, maintaining viable rural communities and contributing to the economy. Since the start of the current fiscal year, which began last October 1, USDA Rural Development has financed approximately 80,000 home loans for rural residents.

That’s an impressive number.   Safe, sanitary housing is a basic human need, and behind each individual loan that USDA supports is a story of how our programs satisfy that need.

A good example is the Bradish family of Missouri. They were living in a one-room storage facility. Their adult children had ventured out on their own, but the grandchildren would come to visit. Needless to say, things were cramped and the couple desperately needed adequate housing.

They applied for loan through USDA and now have a home that they built with their own hands.  Mr. Bradish is a contractor and was able to do all of the construction himself. Now their children and grandchildren can come to visit with plenty of room to play, and the couple has decent, safe, and sanitary housing.

In North Dakota, Alisha Balzum and Joseph Bailes were tired of moving from place to place and putting their money into rent.  They wanted to provide a safe and stable environment for their three children.  After months of looking for a home, a friend of Alisha’s told her about Rural Development’s housing program. Shortly afterward, they were living in a new, energy efficient house in the community of Mapleton. “It’s our home,” said Balzum.  “None of this would have been possible without the help of USDA Rural Development.”

Christopher Urwiller, a teacher with the Scottsbluff, Neb., school system, was renting when he learned of an opportunity to purchase his own home. Twin Cities Development (TCD) and Scottsbluff High School (SHS) students were working on a joint project where TCD provided the lot for construction of a new home built by high school students that would later be offered for sale.  Students built the home as a construction project, providing them with training and life skills.

Student volunteers with the group “Worldchangers” install siding on a USDA-financed Self-Help home near Knik, Alaska.  Thousands of Americans achieve the dream of homeownership Each year with USDA support.

Student volunteers with the group “Worldchangers” install siding on a USDA-financed Self-Help home near Knik, Alaska. Thousands of Americans achieve the dream of homeownership each year with USDA support.

Chris was able to secure a purchase contract for the house prior to completion, which allowed him to pick his carpet colors, floor tile, and wood flooring to truly make the home his own.

Homeownership provided Chris an opportunity to establish roots in the community where he is already actively involved as a physical education teacher and a coach with the Twin Cities baseball league.

This year’s Homeownership Month theme is “Rural Housing/Rural Jobs.” Communities across the nation are holding events and activities during June to highlight USDA Rural Development’s role in providing homeownership opportunities for rural residents. Local and USDA officials will discuss the benefits of homeownership and share information on ways families can become homeowners. We’d like to talk to you.  Call any USDA Rural Development office and ask how we can help you turn your homeownership dream into reality.

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