News Release
Release No.STELPRD4021207
ContactDawn Bonsell717-237-2286
Grindstone, PA, Jun 27, 2013 --


Dawn Bonsell (717) 237-2286

USDA Staff Work Day—Helping to Bring Rural America Home

Last Year in Pennsylvania, USDA Helped More Than 5,000 Home Buyers

GRINDSTONE, June 27, 2013 – USDA Rural Development State Director Thomas Williams and staff recognized National Homeownership Month today by working alongside families in Grindstone, Fayette County as they help to build homes through Rural Development’s Self-Help Housing Program.

Under the Self-Help program, families work together in groups and with the guidance of a non-profit agency, in this case Threshold Housing, to build their own homes. The families must complete at least 65 percent of the work themselves through “sweat equity”; and when all the homes in a group are completed, the families can move in. The process usually takes about a year.

Threshold Housing received a Self-Help Housing Technical Assistance grant from Rural Development to provide assistance to families who qualify. The technical assistance grants, used in conjunction with USDA Rural Development’s subsidized 502 Direct mortgage loan program, allow low-income participants to achieve homeownership at the lowest possible cost to the family. Income-eligible individuals who are unable to obtain credit elsewhere can get a 502 Direct loan, with interest rates as low as one percent and no down payment to purchase an existing home or build a home. Payments are based on income, and the standard term for a loan is 33 years for most borrowers. Rural Development uses sound underwriting criteria to ensure borrowers are able to repay their loans, thereby helping to keep people in their homes.

“Working with our partners in the lending community and with state and local housing authorities, we are continuing to make safe, affordable housing available to credit-worthy applicants across Pennsylvania,” said Williams.

USDA has helped rural residents purchase homes since 1949. Since the start of the Obama Administration, USDA Direct and Guaranteed home loan programs have helped more than 650,000 rural residents buy houses. Last year in Pennsylvania, USDA helped more than 5,000 home buyers.

President Obama also said in his May 11 weekly radio address that more than 2 million families have lowered their mortgage costs by an average of $3,000 a year through government-supported refinance efforts: (

USDA, its state and federal partners, members of the housing community, lenders and communities across the country celebrate National Homeownership Month each June to bring attention to the role housing plays in the economy. This year’s theme, “USDA: Bringing Rural America Home,” underscores housing’s importance to millions of rural residents.

President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.

USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as USDA implements sequestration – the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act. USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $828 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).