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Rural Development Officials Seek Input on Ways to Create Jobs, Improve Housing Opportunities in Louisiana

USDA Rural Development Housing Administrator Tammye Trevino and Rural Development Louisiana State Director Clarence Hawkins kick-started the new year by holding a White House Business Council Stakeholder’s meeting in Luling, Louisiana, located in St. Charles Parish near New Orleans.  The focus of the stakeholder’s meeting was rural housing.  The focus fit perfectly in line with Administrator Trevino’s primary reason for visiting Louisiana.

Administrator Trevino, along with Bryan Hooper, Deputy Administrator of USDA’s Multi-Family Housing Division each served as presenters on the Council for Affordable and Rural Housing (CARH) 2012 mid-year meeting in New Orleans.  CARH is a national nonprofit trade organization focusing on issues affecting rural housing.  The theme for this year’s meeting was “Transforming Rural Housing: Innovative Tools and Dynamic Initiatives for Tomorrow.”

Administrator Trevino served as the opening speaker.  Following her address, she joined State Director Hawkins and Deputy Administrator Hooper for a tour of two Rural Development projects located in Boutte and Waggaman, Louisiana. The administrator had an opportunity to tour the Boutte Estates Subdivision, where a collection of 12 homes have either been built, or are in the process of being built through the USDA Rural Development Self-Help Housing Program.  The USDA Rural Development Area Office in Amite worked with the grantee, Family Resources of New Orleans (FRNO) to provide the assistance these homeowners needed to realize their dream of homeownership.

That’s where they met new homeowner Lester Bailey. After retiring from the Avondale Shipyard with 38 years of service, Bailey believed that his fixed retirement income would only allow him to rent an apartment for the rest of his life and that homeownership at the age of 65 would be impossible.  He worked with FRNO, and with their guidance he was able to obtain a USDA Rural Development Direct Home Loan.  Lester was able to provide hands-on assistance in building his home and assist others with the construction of their new homes.  He also qualified for payment assistance so his monthly payment would be more affordable.  In a particularly heart-warming moment, Mr. Bailey had the unique opportunity to directly express his appreciation and give his testimony to Administrator Trevino.

Family Resources of New Orleans was praised for its role in helping low-income families realize the dream of homeownership.  “Your job as counselors and housing advocates working directly with families is an extremely important part of helping rural citizens become successful homeowners.  The Mutual Self-Help programs are available to assist applicants with the construction of their homes under the guidance of a non-profit organization,” said State Director Hawkins.  “Working in Washington, it is rare we get an opportunity to see the fruits of our labor.  This organization and these homeowners are doing a fabulous job,” said Administrator Trevino.

After touring Boutte Estates, they collectively ventured east to Waggaman, Louisiana where two USDA Rural Development financed Multi-Family Housing complexes are currently under rehabilitation.

The following morning, approximately 30 local developers, lenders, business, and community leaders gathered to participate in the White House Business Council Stakeholder’s meeting at the St. Charles Parish West Branch Library in Luling, Louisiana.  The objective of the meeting was to obtain input from community leaders on how the Obama Administration can partner with local groups and governments to improve housing opportunities, economic conditions, and job creation in rural areas.

To learn more about business development activities click here.  To learn about USDA’s housing programs click here.

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