Department of Ag Celebrates Homeownership Month

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Photo Courtesy of Hawaii Lumber Products Association.

US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack kicked off National Homeownership Month by highlighting USDA’s ongoing role to help people buy homes in rural areas.

“Owning a home helps promote stable communities and is one of the best ways American families can build wealth,” Vilsack said. “During the Obama Administration, USDA has helped more than one million rural families and individuals realize their dreams of homeownership.”

With Hawai‘i’s median home price being one of the highest in the nation, many local families are unable to own a home.

“Despite the unique high-cost environment families face in Hawai‘i, everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy this basic right of homeownership,” said Chris Kanazawa, Rural Development state director. “USDA Rural Development’s housing programs offer moderate- or low-income families with the financial assistance needed to enable them to attain this dream.”


USDA builds strong relationships with lenders, home builders, realtors, community development organizations, non-profits and housing finance authorities to provide homeownership opportunities to very-low, low- and moderate-income individuals in rural areas.

USDA’s Guaranteed Loan program, for example, increases access to mortgage financing in rural communities by offering approved lenders a 90% loan guarantee to offset their risk if a borrower defaults.

By partnering with approved public and private lenders, more than one million low- to moderate-income families have bought and refinanced homes in rural America through this program during the Obama Administration.

The program requires no down payment from the applicant, offers a fixed interest rate and has a 30-year loan term.


The department recently announced a series of changes that will make it faster and cheaper for rural homeowners with USDA-backed mortgages to refinance their loans and save money with a lower interest rate.

The changes took effect June 2. Interested homeowners with USDA loan guarantees should contact their lender about refinance procedures. Homeowners with mortgages through USDA’s Direct Loan program should contact a USDA housing specialist.

In addition to mortgage financing, USDA provides grants and loans to help rural homeowners make improvements or repairs, such as removing health and safety hazards or making accessibility modifications for people with disabilities.

USDA has invested more than $137 billion since 2009 to support rural homeownership. In 2015 alone, the department invested $19.5 billion to help more than 148,500 rural families buy or make repairs and safety upgrades to their homes.


USDA created more homeownership opportunities through seven years of the Obama Administration than during any previous seven-year period in the single-family housing program’s history.

In Hawai‘i, American Samoa and the Western Pacific, USDA has invested $2.67 billion since 2009 through a myriad of programs that support rural communities. Of that, the department invested $147 million in single-family direct loans, $1.6 billion in single-family guaranteed loans, $7 million to help single-family homeowners with needed home repairs and nearly $7 million in support of the self-help program. In all, 6,914 families either became homeowners or were able to make the necessary repairs to keep them in their homes.

USDA Rural Development has helped 1.1 million rural residents buy homes since 2009; funded nearly 7,000 community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care facilities; and invested $31.3 billion in 963 electric projects that have financed more than 185,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines serving 4.6 million rural residents.

USDA also has invested $11 billion to start or expand 103,000 rural businesses; and helped bring high-speed Internet access to nearly six million rural residents and businesses.

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