As part of USDA’s ongoing celebration of National Homeownership Month, I visited several communities bordering Illinois and Missouri last week to meet some of the people whose lives have been changed with homeownership.
Joe and Heather Sumner had been renters in Highland, IL, who needed more space for their growing family. They were struggling to find affordable financing options, until they learned about Rural Development from their real estate agent. They soon qualified for a USDA Direct Housing Loan, and they were able to move into their new home in time for their new baby, who arrived just four days later. Mrs. Sumner told me they were especially pleased with the amount of house they could afford through the Rural Development program.
In Wentzville, MO, I visited with Mr. and Mrs. Andres Vasallo, who purchased their single family home with the assistance of a USDA Home Loan Guarantee. The USDA-backed financing helped them secure a lower interest rate and a lower monthly payment than with conventional financing. With the larger space, they now have room for Mr. Vasallo’s mother to live with them.
“We are excited and grateful to have this home,” said Mr. Vasallo. “Without this program, we would have had to come up with a much larger down payment. However, by using the USDA Guaranteed Loan, we were able to buy a home with little down payment — and pay our vehicle off as well.”
While on the road, I also visited some of our partners in the region, including North East Missouri Community Action Corporation (NECAC). As the first single family housing loan packager in Missouri, NECAC will assist homebuyers applying for Rural Development home loan assistance and, ultimately, help us deliver our programs to more people.
I also met with one of our USDA guaranteed housing lenders, FCB Banks, in Belleville, IL. Through the Rural Development Guaranteed Rural Housing program, FCB Banks has helped nearly 90 families buy homes with USDA assistance since 2013. In recognition of their history of high quality, low delinquency USDA guaranteed loans, the Illinois Rural Development team and I presented the bank with a certificate of appreciation.
The theme for Homeownership Month this year is “Own your future. Own your home,” to acknowledge the importance of homeownership as a family works to build equity and assets, establish credit, and increase their long-term financial security. After 65 years of delivering housing assistance, USDA Rural Development and our partners have helped nearly 3.4 million rural homebuyers achieve the dream of homeownership while growing their personal assets.
The numbers are impressive, but nothing compares to meeting those who are working to make a difference – and the real people whose lives are changed– by these important programs.