Scottsbluff, Nebraska, Jun 27, 2011 -- USDA Rural Development Nebraska State Director Maxine Moul and staff celebrated National Homeownership Month today in Scottsbluff, Nebraska with a plaque presentation to Maunette Loeks-Van Patten and her family for their achievement of homeownership. This year’s National Homeownership Month’s theme is “Rural Housing/Rural Jobs.”
“I congratulate Maunette on her new role as a homeowner,” said Moul. “A home not only provides a quality environment but is also an investment to the family and community. Partnering was the key to bring homeownership to the Van Pattens. We look forward to working with our partners to assist many more households with their housing needs.”
Maunette Loeks-Van Patten, husband Jeff and 16-year-old daughter Abigail lived in rental housing for a long time. They now wanted to purchase a home but finding one the right size and in good condition was a challenge. As a reporter at the Star-Herald, Maunette had previously written stories on the Twin Cities Development (TCD)/Western Nebraska Housing Opportunities (WNHO) projects. The family connected with TCD/WNHO to purchase one of the homes that were relocated in Scottsbluff.
Valley Bank and Trust mortgage department of Gering, Nebraska utilized the USDA Rural Development Guaranteed Home Ownership Loan program and the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority program for First Time Homebuyers. These combined programs gave the Van Patten family an opportunity to purchase a home of their dreams with no down payment.
“Valley Bank and Trust lenders take great pride in providing financial assistance to income qualified homebuyers to purchase safe, affordable housing. The 30 year, low fixed interest rate loan the bank is able to offer by utilizing Rural Development and Nebraska Investment Finance Authority programs makes it possible for households to achieve the goal of homeownership that they may have been unable to obtain any other way,” said Mortgage Loan Specialist Marlene Butcher, Valley Bank and Trust Company.
WNHO, using a Neighborhood Stabilization Funds grant, was able to tear down a rundown house in the neighborhood and clear the lot. The TCD/WNHO construction crew then moved in and provided a 1,800 square foot structure with a modern, energy efficient three bedroom, two bath home with all the amenities. WNHO was able to keep the price of the home affordable thanks to grant funds and the TCD/WNHO construction crew.
The Van Patten family now resides in their home at 1823 9th Avenue in Scottsbluff. One of the benefits they see is a decrease in monthly living expenses, as the couple’s mortgage payments are less than their previous monthly rent. The Van Pattens consider purchasing a home as an investment into their future, rather than someone else’s investment.
A blighted home was replaced with a new home making a dramatic improvement in the area, which is one of the goals of the TCD/WNHO programs. Two other new homes are located within a block of the couple’s home, so the neighborhood is seeing a lot of development.
The couple will also be working to establish a sustainable landscape to improve the currently barren lot. They will work with the North Platte Natural Resources District to plant buffalo grass and the City of Scottsbluff to plant trees through cost-sharing programs offered by both entities.
This project brought jobs to the community. The TCD/WHNO work crew employed four full-time staff. Two electricians, three concrete workers, and three plumbers received subcontracts. The original demolition of the property was accomplished by a hired contractor that had up to three employees working on the house. In total, there were at least 14-15 people employed at some time during this construction project.
USDA Rural Development has been very successful in helping rural Nebraska residents to live the American dream of homeownership. Since 1979, Rural Development in Nebraska has assisted more than 19,750 families in becoming homeowners. March 2011 marked a milestone of more than $1 billion of home loans made by the Agency in the state. For Fiscal Year 2011, USDA Rural Development in Nebraska received an allocation of almost $164 million for financing home loan purchases in rural communities.
USDA Rural Development has two loan programs that provide affordable homeownership opportunities to rural Americans: the Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan program, and the Single Family Housing Direct Loan program. Both these programs allow for 100 percent financing and affordable rates and terms. Eligibility is based on income, acceptable credit and repayment ability and the property must be located in rural areas with populations not exceeding 20,000. However Norfolk and Columbus are also eligible. USDA uses sound underwriting criteria to ensure borrowers are able to repay their loans. By doing so, USDA Rural Development is helping to keep people in their homes. You can visit the Agency eligibility website at http://eligibility.sc.egov.usda.gov to determine if you are within the established income limit based on the size of household and county and if the property is located within an eligible area.
Housing not only provides a safe home for families, but also generates economic activity through construction jobs and results in direct real estate industry impacts relating to Realtors, banks, title companies, insurance, home furnishing sales, etc. Housing supports communities through an increased tax base and provides an available workforce. Available housing is important in bringing businesses to a community and provides a place “where jobs sleep” and allows families to live in communities where they work, and reduce energy costs.
Households interested in homeownership opportunities may contact their local USDA Rural Development office which can be located at: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/ne/Contact_Us.htm. Visit www.rurdev.usda.gov/ne for additional program information.