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Helping homeowners attain their dreams

Thanks to the effort of a group of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) employees in Greenwich - the idea of home ownership and home improvement may become a little closer to reality for some north country residents this year.

The USDA's Rural Development program works to provide low interest mortgage financing, housing grants, and other related programs to qualified low-income applicants.

"What we are trying to do right now is promote the home programs," Todd Loy, a Rural Development Technician, said. "Especially with everything that is going on with the economy right now."

Despite the fact that the USDA has fully funded housing programs available, they do not have a marketing or promotion budget. Instead, local field offices must rely on community outreach efforts, educational programs, and local media outlets to spread the word.

"They're really good programs but people don't know a lot about what we do," Loy noted.

From their office in Greenwich - Loy and his team service a large section of upstate New York including Warren, Hamilton, and Essex counties. While there are several options available for public and private projects, he is hoping to promote two of their private housing assistance programs this year.

The USDA Rural Development Section 502 housing program is structured to provide financing to assist families and individuals interested in purchasing a home at a reduced interest rate.

"The direct benefit to the borrower is the ability to structure a mortgage with reasonable payments within their repayment ability," Loy said.

The program is available to low (and very low) income households to buy or build a home in a rural area. There is no down payment or private mortgage insurance (PMI) required.

The USDA Rural Development Section 504 housing program is a similar program aimed at assisting existing low-income homeowners, to make repairs, improve, or modernize their home (at a rate as low as 1 percent for up to 20 years). For seniors age 62 and older who cannot afford a loan, grant funds may be available for these repairs.

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