L to R: Vernon Brown, USDA Community Program Director in Kentucky; RHS Administrator Hernandez; and Thomas Fern, USDA Rural Development State Director for Kentucky.
Recently, I visited southeastern Kentucky, where I joined Rural Development State Director Tom Fern on a whirlwind tour to parts of an eight-county region designated by President Obama as a rural Promise Zone and by Secretary Vilsack as part of USDA’s StrikeForce initiative covering 73 Kentucky counties.
During my first stop, I joined Congressman Hal Rogers as he announced a $23 million loan (funded by USDA’s Community Facilities program) to purchase the property and facilities of the Knox County Hospital in Barbourville. That loan was the first one to come across my desk last December shortly after I joined USDA. Meeting with some of the 200-plus dedicated employees of that hospital affirmed my belief that granting that loan was the right decision, as the funding will enable those healthcare workers to continue to serve the families of the region. Read more »
New Mexico USDA Rural Development State Director Terry Brunner (r) presents a certificate of congratulations to Sandra and Miguel Duarte. The presentation was made during National Homeownership Month event in Sunland Park to honor the Durate family for becoming new homeowners. USDA photo.
During their seven years of marriage, Miguel and Sandra Duarte and their two children became tired of living in an apartment. Then one hot summer day in 2012, Mr. Duarte, a surveyor, found himself working on a housing subdivision in Sunland Park, New Mexico on the Mexican border. That’s when he asked his boss, “I wonder if I could buy one of these homes?”
Soon he was in the Las Cruces, New Mexico USDA Rural Development office talking with housing staff about homeownership. After qualifying for a Rural Development direct home loan the construction of the Duarte home soon began. As soon as the final electric connection is made to the house the Durate’s will move into their new home later this month. Read more »
South Dakota Rural Development State Director Elsie M. Meeks addressed a crowd of nearly 500 attendees at the 37th Annual National American Indian Council Convention & Trade Show in Phoenix, Arizona last week. This year’s theme was “Connect to the Past, Commit to the Future.”
Meeks, an Oglala Sioux Tribal Member, highlighted Rural Development’s programs and provided stats on the opportunities provided to American Indian/Alaska Native families on a national scale since the year 2000. She noted that the Single Family Housing Direct Program has helped over 2,600 Native families become homeowners during that time and that the USDA Guaranteed program has helped an additional 3,700 families achieve their homeownership dreams. In addition the USDA Home Repair program has funded home repairs for over 3,000 Native families. Read more »
Barbara Beard-Hinton, Assistant to the State Director for Rural Development
in North Carolina, Mel Ellis, Director, Single Family Housing and Rich Davis, Acting Deputy Administrator, Single Family Housing
sponsored a Self Help Housing
Listening Forum at the McKimmon Conference Center at North Carolina State University in Raleigh on March 12.
There were 42 persons in attendance. The purpose of the forum was to create new ideas and promote the USDA Self Help Housing Program. The program, which is very popular, allows families to work together under the direction of a contractor to build their own homes. The process often takes a year and, upon completion, the work participants do on their houses becomes their “sweat equity.”
The listening forum was moderated by Scott Farmer, Director of Rental Investment, NC Housing Finance Agency
. North Carolina currently has five active grantees. Four of the five grantees were in attendance and provided valuable input based on their experience with the Self Help program.
Written by Delane Johnson, Public Information Specialist
Left to Right: Mel Ellis, Director Single Family Housing, USDA Rural Development NC, Rich Davis, Acting Deputy Administrator, USDA Single Family Housing, Washington, D.C.