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USDA Celebrates Homeownership Month in Alaska

Juneau Included in Newly Eligible Areas for Housing Programs

   ANCHORAGE, Alaska – June 25, 2014 – On the occasion of June - National Homeownership Month - USDA-Rural Development Alaska State Director Jim Nordlund announced today immediate changes to eligibility for USDA’s Rural Housing Programs. 

   The Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill) makes certain additional areas eligible for USDA Rural Housing Programs. The residents of the City and Borough of Juneau are now eligible.  This change is due to language in the Farm Bill which allows Rural Development to serve communities of up to 35,000 in population, whereas the previous limit was 25,000.   Farmer’s Loop, located in the Fairbanks North Star Borough is also a newly eligible area for USDA-RD Housing Programs.

  “Single-family housing loans from USDA-RD Housing Programs will provide the means for some mid to lower income families to purchase or refinance homes when no other financing is available to them.  Homeownership is a critical step on the ladder of opportunity as it helps build equity and increase assets.  Juneau has a lack of affordable housing and we are very pleased to offer this financing to help meet that need,” said Nordlund.

  The Matanuska-Susitna Valley remains eligible as it has been previously.  USDA-Rural Development maintains detailed maps on the USDA Income and Property Eligibility Site to indicate the boundaries of eligible areas and to determine whether specific properties meet the rural area requirement for USDA Rural Housing Program support.

  USDA-RD has been highlighting National Homeownership Month with events across the Nation throughout June.  On Monday, June 30th Alaska will celebrate National Homeownership Month in Juneau, which is located in a designated USDA StrikeForce area.  The event will be held from 3:30 – 5 p.m. at the Tlingit Haida Regional Housing Authority’s first-floor conference room at 5446 Jenkins Drive.  The Juneau Economic Development Council is facilitating the event.

   USDA-RD programs that support rural homeownership include:

  • Direct Home Loans  - for low and very low income applicants; payment assistance is provided that can lower the loan’s interest rate to as low as one percent. There is no required down payment, private mortgage insurance or fees for these loans, and terms can run up to 38 years.
  • Guaranteed Home Loans - for moderate-income families; the agency works in partnership with private-sector lenders to back the lenders’ loans; efforts are underway to boost loan guarantee and refinancing opportunities.
  • Home Repair Loans and Grants - to help rural homeowners make improvements or repairs.  Examples include building homes that are accessible for people with disabilities, or removing health and safety hazards like poor wiring or plumbing.  Grants may be available to income eligible applicants aged 62 and over.

   USDA is making changes to the guaranteed home loan program to help create jobs, enable more people to participate, spur new home construction and inject more capital into rural areas.  The changes will increase the availability of housing loans in underserved communities, such as those targeted by USDA's StrikeForce initiative to help alleviate rural poverty.

   Changes that take effect on September 1, 2014 include:

  • Increased Lender Eligibility - Many small community banks and credit unions, which are currently ineligible, will be able to participate.
  • Construction-to-Permanent Financing - Currently, only “take-out” financing is permitted once construction is complete.  “Construction-to-perm” financing, also called “single close” financing, will provide funds when construction begins.  This will encourage homebuilders, lenders and borrowers to build more new homes.

   To learn more about USDA-RD's Housing Programs contact Housing Programs Director Deborah Davis at: Deborah.Davis@ak.usda.gov, or (907) 761-7740; or in Southeast Alaska, please contact Keith Perkins, USDA-RD’s Southeast Area Manager at: keith.perkins@ak.usda.gov, or (907) 747-3506.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

If you wish to file a Civil Rights program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, found online at: http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, or any USDA office, or call (866) 632-9992 to request the form.  You may also write a letter containing all of the information requested in the form.  Send your completed complaint form or letter to us by mail at U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, by fax (202) 690-7442 or email at: program.intake@usda.gov.

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