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USDA Housing Administrator: Rural Housing Program is Solid

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 enabled USDA Rural Development to help more than 80,000 families in rural communities secure safe, decent, affordable homes.   In the depths of the recession in early 2009, new home construction and private sector mortgage lending virtually ground to a halt in rural America.

By more than doubling the number of families served during a difficult economic time, Rural Development’s Single Family Housing Guaranteed program played a critical role in resuscitating the rural housing market.  All along, we continued to adhere to strong underwriting standards and strict lender oversight, and implemented a number of additional quality control procedures.  A preliminary Inspector General Report led to an article in the January 14, 2011 New York Times, which raised various questions.

We have great confidence in the soundness of our guaranteed portfolio, and see no indication that loans made under the Recovery Act will have any significant negative impact on the continued strength of our portfolio.  We wanted to take this opportunity to provide our perspective on some of the claims made in the article, and we have done so here.

Improving the Integrity of Rural Housing Investments

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has had a profound impact on the American people. Investments were made to create and save jobs, spurring economic activity and long-term growth. As a result, communities and families had access to resources to help lay a stronger foundation for the future of our country. In fact, through USDA’s Single Family Housing Guaranteed Program, over 80,000 American families were able to purchase or maintain a home. Read more »

Despite Threats and Intimidation, USDA and MAIL Deliver Services to Afghan Farmers

Gary Soiseth is a USDA agricultural expert in Afghanistan’s Wardak province. One of Gary’s main goals is to help the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) reach its people with agricultural services and support. Read more »

USDA y Cooperativas Juegan un Papel en Ayudar a Residentes de Áreas Rurales a Reducir los Costos de Energía

A principios de este mes, el Vice Presidente Joe Biden anunció la iniciativa “Recovery Through Retrofit” la cual busca lograr una mayor eficiencia energética en los hogares a través de la nación. Como parte de los esfuerzos, el Departamento de Energía de los Estados Unidos (DOE, por sus siglas en inglés) Department of Energy ha desarollado una aplicación electrónica Home Energy Score que logrará estandarizar las auditorías de energía en los hogares, proveerá a los propetarios de viviendas con un puntuación, una lista de posibles mejoras y un estimado de los costos y beneficios para las mejoras recomendadas. Read more »

Teaming Up in the Challenge to Bring Healthier Meals to Schools

Ending childhood obesity within a generation is the central goal of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative. We know achieving this goal requires all of us to work together – parents, teachers, schools, chefs, community leaders, Federal, State and local elected officials and our children – there’s a role for each of us to play. Read more »

Reflecciones Sobre los Derechos Civiles en el USDA

Antes de juramentar como Secretario de Agricultura, tuve la oportunidad de reunirme con algunos individuos que sirvieron en la posición en el pasado.  A estos les pedí consejo y dos de los más recientes Secretarios mencionaron que era importante que me enfocara en los derechos civiles.  Aprendí rapidamente por mi cuenta que el USDA tiene un historial de derechos civiles desafortunado y de altibajos, un historial de discriminación contra clientes y empleados que se extiende por varias decadas. Read more »