http://www.rurdev.usda.gov, Jun 28, 2010 -- Contact:
Dane Henshall (202) 260-0996
USDA Rural Development Seeks Public Comment on Ways to Improve a Popular Homebuilding Program
June 30th Meeting in Washington, DC Intended to Explore Ways to Better Serve Prospective Homeowners
WASHINGTON, June 28, 2010– Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager today announced a public forum will be held at the Department of Agriculture on Wednesday, June 30, 2010 to hear public comments concerning the current USDA Self-Help Housing Program. The forum will be the last of a series held across the Nation.
“The message that we have taken away from these forums so far is that the needs of the non-profit organizations that work with us on this program vary geographically across the country,” said Tonsager. “The feedback and information we have collected will be helpful as we revise our regulations. Homeownership programs including Self-Help Housing are part of President Obama’s approach to revitalize communities stricken by the economic crisis, and we are looking for ways to better serve the prospective homeowners who participate.”
USDA began funding home construction through the Self-Help Program in the 1960’s. Under the program, Rural Development makes grants to local non-profit organizations to provide technical assistance to groups of families as they build their own homes. This program has helped thousands of limited income families build and own their homes over the past 50 years.
For example, in Payson, Utah, a group of seven families under the direction of a non-profit organization recently spent six months building their homes. Each of the families helped with tasks such as framing, roofing, and landscaping by dedicating a minimum of 35 hours per week to construction activities. The mortgages, with structured, affordable payments will be administered through USDA Rural Development’s Direct Home Loan Program. Since 2000, more than 200 families in Utah County have become homeowners through USDA Rural Development’s Self-Help Program.
As part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to create an open, transparent government, USDA Housing staff launched a nation-wide initiative to solicit feedback from the public to improve the Self-Help Housing Program. The purpose of the forums is to engage stakeholders from non-profit groups, and state and local government to obtain public comments on the efficiency of the program. Wednesday’s forum is the last of eight being held around the Nation by USDA Rural Development. It will also mark the conclusion of a month-long celebration of protecting homeownership. Each June, National Homeownership Month raises awareness about the vital role homeownership plays in job creation, economic development, and the overall strengthening of America’s neighborhoods.
The June 30 forum is open to the public and will take place from 1:00 – 4:00 pm at the Jefferson Auditorium, USDA South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC. Pre-registration is not required. All questions and comments can be directed to Carolyn Bell at (202) 720-1532 or Carolyn.Bell@wdc.usda.gov.
For more information on the Self-Help Housing Forums, please visit the Housing and Community Facilities Program’s web site at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rhs/.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of 6,100 employees located in the nation's capital and 500 state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $138 billion in loans and loan guarantees.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272(voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).