Homeownership still within reach for northwest Tennesseans

Homeownership still within reach for northwest Tennesseans
Rural Development Area Director Bobby Goode and his staff celebrated National Homeownership Month recently by lending a hand to help make needed repairs so that Weakley County homeowner Lovie Irvine could stay in her own home. At 83 and living on a fixed income, Irvine had worried she might have to move out of her home if needed health and safety repairs were not completed soon. “It’s easy to take our homes for granted, but volunteering reminds us what it takes for families to own and keep the roof over their head,” said Goode. “Our mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural residents. Helping families buy and keep their homes is an important part of that, especially with housing markets and the economy the way they are right now.” Rural Development Home Ownership Specialists Mary Hickman and Tyler Hayes from the Union City Area Office also participated in the work day. Needed work on the Levine home included replacement of the decayed flooring and subflooring in two rooms. Northeast Tennessee Economic Development District partnered with Rural Development to fund the project. “For many Americans, owning a home represents freedom, independence, and the American dream. Homeownership enables families to accumulate wealth, stabilizes neighborhoods and promotes healthy families and strong communities,” said President Bush in proclaiming June Homeownership Month. According to the proclamation, USDA Rural Development helped 46,338 rural families nationwide become homeowners in Fiscal Year 2007. In Tennessee last year Rural Development worked with more than 225 private lenders through the loan-guarantee program and invested more than $180 million to help over 1,800 families obtain affordable home loans. “Rural Development homeownership programs help families with financing and prepares them for the financial responsibilities of homeownership before the loans are made. That’s one of the reasons our home loan borrowers have a remarkably high success rate, in fact, the default rate is less than one percent out of a portfolio of more than 9,200 homes loans,” said Goode. Rural Development programs are designed to increase homeownership by assisting eligible families and individuals in purchasing or building a home in rural areas of Tennessee. Loans may be made without a down payment, and eligible applicants may qualify for loan financing up to 100 percent of the appraised value. Depending on an applicant’s income, monthly payments may be based on an interest rate as low as one percent. Loans are typically made for 33 years at a fixed interest rate. The maximum loan amount varies by county with a maximum of $131,100 in Weakley County. Monthly payment assistance may also be available for those who qualify. Eligibility for assistance varies based on average family incomes in each county. For example, a three person household in Weakley County with an adjusted household income up to $34,900 may qualify for a low-interest home loan through Rural Development. Rural Development staff will assist those interested to calculate their adjusted family income and complete the application process. Additionally, Rural Development offers a Guaranteed Home Loan program to help private lenders increase the number of affordable home loans they make in rural areas. The agency also has funds available to help eligible existing homeowners make needed repairs related to health, safety and accessibility. USDA Rural Development is committed to the future of rural communities in Tennessee by investing financial and technical assistance through housing, community and business development programs. In Fiscal Year 2007 Rural Development assisted at least 600,000 Tennessee families and businesses with more than $308 million in financial resources including loans, loan guarantees and grants. For more information on homeownership, business or community development programs available in the northwest Tennessee, contact the Rural Development Area Office in Union City at (731) 885-6480 ext. 4 or call toll free at (800) 342-3149 ext 1497.

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