News Release
Release No.STELPRD4016847
ContactVicki Schurman402-437-5563
Winnebago, Nebraska, Jun 19, 2012 --

@@Dr. Joe Leonard, USDA Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, and Janie Hipp, Senior Advisor
to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on Tribal Affairs for USDA, celebrated National Homeownership Month today at the home of Marcel Picotte Sr. and his family of five in Winnebago, Nebraska. They joined Nebraska USDA Rural Development State Director Maxine Moul and South Dakota State Director Elsie Meeks and staff for the event.

This year’s Homeownership Month theme is “Now is the Time.” Mortgage interest rates are at or near record lows and housing prices are more affordable than they have been in nearly a generation.

“This is an occasion worth celebrating.  It is a great achievement for the Picottes and a testament to the efforts of all of the people who partnered to make this possible.   In Nebraska last year, the direct and guaranteed housing loan programs brought homeownership to 1,254 households through $115.4 million in USDA Rural Development funding.    These numbers would not have been possible except through partnership with local organizations willing to step forward and lead.  They represent local investment, and a commitment to the long term future of the communities involved,” said Dr. Leonard.

“Congratulations to Marcel and his family on achieving homeownership,” said Hipp. “All the partners that came together to make this happen show what joining resources can achieve. The partnering generated benefits beyond that of just homeownership. This process helped generate local business and employment and helps to inspire others in the area to make their dream of owning a home come true.”

“A big thanks to all involved from beginning to closing that helped our dream of

 homeownership become a reality. Without the Winnebago Tribe and its programs, and especially with USDA Rural Development all of this would not have taken place,” said Marcel Picotte Sr., homeowner.

“We are pleased to have helped the Picottes in moving from renters to homeowners,” said Moul. “This was truly a project with great teamwork. Homeownership is a great investment for a family’s future.”

“Homeownership is another critical component to improve the lives of community members that can make a difference now and in the future for the entire family. It can really provide a good sense of accomplishment,” said Executive Director Frank Schersing, Ho-Chunk Community Development Corporation.

“This is a step forward in the planning process for the tribe,” said Chairman John Blackhawk, Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska.

Homeownership came to the Picottes through six partners: USDA Rural Development, Ho-Chunk Community Development Corporation (HC CDC), the Winnebago Tribe, HCI Construction, the Winnebago Housing and Development Commission (WHDC) and the Rural Housing and Economic Development (RHED) program.

HC CDC worked closely with the Winnebago Tribe to ensure all property issues were addressed, since the home was being placed on land owned by the Tribe. HC CDC also worked with HCI Construction to ensure proper construction of the home. HC CDC’s efforts with the WHDC, the Winnebago Tribe and the RHED program afforded the Picottes the opportunity to obtain approximately $90,000 in down payment assistance that, combined with a low interest USDA Rural Development loan of $60,000, made the home affordable. Today, the Picottes live in a three bedroom, 1,568 square foot newly built ranch home.

USDA Rural Development has been very successful in helping rural Nebraska residents to live the American dream of homeownership. In Fiscal Year 2012, USDA Rural Development in Nebraska received an allocation of almost $143.1 million for financing home loan purchases in rural communities. As of May 29, 2012 Rural Development has provided homeownership to 786 rural households through $72.9 million in home loans.

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 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: Visit for additional program information.