U S D A / Rural Development
Washington, D.C.  20250-0705

News Release

Taylor Oldroyd, (202) 720-1019

Partnership with Bankers Critical To Meet President Bush’s Goal

     CHICAGO, Oct. 22, 2002—While attending the Mortgage Bankers Association’s 89th Annual Convention, Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Thomas Dorr today announced an aggressive plan to help achieve President Bush’s goal of helping 5.5 million minority families attain the dream of homeownership by 2010.

     Homeownership strengthens our rural communities and contributes to the overall quality of life for rural families,” said Dorr. “Rural Development’s Rural Housing Service works with community organizations, lenders and individual residents to increase the opportunity for rural homeownership. In 2002, 15,000 rural families have realized their dream of homeownership through our direct loan program and more than 29,000 families were served by the guarantee loan program. I am confident that working together with the lending industry, housing opportunities will continue to grow and the President’s goal will be reached.”

     The Mortgage Bankers conference comes on the heels of the White House Initiative on Minority Homeownership conference held October 15, 2002 in Washington, D.C. President Bush, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez attended, along with housing industry representatives, bankers, and social groups to discuss ways in which government and the private sector housing and lending industries can meet the goal.

     During Dorr’s remarks to the convention attendees he outlined a “Five Star Commitment” to assist in increasing the level of rural homeownership over the next eight years. Efforts to achieve these five commitments will increase the opportunity of USDA and lenders to partner and provide American families with a home. The commitments include:

     “In just three months since lowering the refinancing fee, Rural Development has been able to assist 525 families, 2.5 times more during this period than in the previous 14 months,” said Dorr. “As part of the Five Star Commitment, and sensitivity to market changes, we are announcing today the guarantee fee for refinancing loans will be lowered from 2 percent to .5 percent and from 2 percent to 1.5 percent for new loans.”

     USDA Rural Development serves as the lead federal entity for rural development needs and administers financial and technical assistance through three agencies: Rural Housing Service, Rural Business-Cooperative Service and Rural Utilities Service. Further information on USDA Rural Development can be obtained by contacting any USDA Service Center or by visiting USDA's web site at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/.


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