Success Story
Release No.STELPRD4016799
, Jun 14, 2012 --

A unique partnership between USDA Rural Development and Habitat for Humanity of Douglas County (HFHDC) has helped make Cassandra Braford a proud new homeowner.

Braford, a waitress at a local restaurant, recently moved into her home in Alexandria, Minn., with her children, Ramsey and Riyada, and her mother, Jean. The home was financed through USDA Rural Development’s direct home loan program. Braford built her home in partnership with HFHDC.

“Throughout this process, I have become more confident in my abilities and have felt empowered to continue growing and to make a better future for my family,” said Braford, who showed off her new home during a June Homeownership Month event last week. “I couldn’t be more thankful to USDA, to Habitat and everyone else who helped along the way.”

The partnership between USDA and Habitat leverages assets from both organizations to help more qualified individuals and families achieve homeownership in rural Minnesota.

“Any time we have the opportunity to leverage resources to make an even greater impact, we should do so,” said Colleen Landkamer, USDA Rural Development State Director. “Cassandra and her family have worked hard to become homeowners. I’m proud of her achievement and proud that USDA was able to partner with Habitat to make it happen.”

USDA and Habitat had some additional help in building Cassandra’s home. First-year construction students at Alexandria Community & Technical College played a major role in the home’s construction, gaining valuable educational experience and performing a needed community service.

Since 2009, Rural Development has helped over 800 individuals and families in rural Minnesota become homeowners through its direct home loan program. Since 1997, Habitat for Humanity has built or renovated 31 homes for 126 people in the Alexandria region.

Cassandra has put in over 200 hours of sweat equity helping build other Habitat Homes in the area. She’s seen firsthand what partnership and working together can do for her own family and her community.

“I was ready for this,” she said. “I could not be happier right now.”