USDA to help thousands of rural homeowners

Feb 24, 2012, 10:33 AM

Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will visit Florida on Friday to discuss a United States Department of Agriculture pilot loan program that could help tens of thousands of rural homeowners in 19 states.

The program, which was first announced Feb. 1, allows underwater homeowners in rural areas to refinance their homes with lower interest rates, similar to a program President Barack Obama announced earlier this month _ although as Vilsack points out, the USDA’s program does not rely on the approval of Congress.

“We’ve already obligated this money,” Vilsack said.

To be eligible for the USDA program, homeowners must have either a direct loan with the USDA or a USDA guarantee on a commercial bank mortgage.

Officials say the new program will cut through red tape normally seen with bank refinancing and save borrowers hundreds of dollars a month. To be eligible, borrowers must have made their mortgage payments on time for 12 consecutive months. There are more than 20,000 borrowers eligible in Florida and some 237,000 nationwide, according to the USDA, all in rural areas.

“We’re trying to make this as easy as possible,” Vilsack said.

He said that if more underwater loans are refinanced, then fewer homeowners will face foreclosure.

“This will preserve not only an opportunity for these families to save a little money, but it will preserve the value of neighborhoods, also,” he said.

Under the new pilot program, a homeowner could knock three or four percentage points off their mortgage interest rates if they refinance _ and they wouldn’t have to go through an appraisal, inspection or credit report.

Similar to the federal Housing and Urban Development, the USDA does make and guarantee home loans, only for those living in rural areas. Vilsack said the agency has facilitated about 465,000 home loans nationwide.

In contrast, Obama’s housing proposal faces a major hurdle in Congress. The program would cost between $5 billion and $10 billion, depending on participation, and the administration proposes to pay for it with a fee on large banks.

On Friday in Orlando, Vilsack will also announce that the USDA is accepting applications from lenders to help finance the construction, acquisition and rehabilitation of affordable multi-family rental housing for rural residents. The USDA also has money available to help low income residents secure affordable rental housing.

___

Follow Tamara Lush on Twitter at
http://twitter.com/tamaralush.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

Associated Press

Rare 1,000-year-old manuscript returned to Greece from US

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A U.S. museum has returned a valuable 1,000-year-old Christian manuscript to a monastery in northern Greece it was looted from by Bulgarian forces more than a century ago together with hundreds of other documents and artifacts. The 11th century gospel was formally presented Thursday at the Eikosiphoinissa Monastery, in a ceremony […]
11 hours ago
FIEL - The Torrance County Detention Facility is shown in this, Nov. 11, 2000, file photo, in Estan...
Associated Press

Groups: Retaliation after migrants report detention center

ESTANCIA, N.M. (AP) — Migrants held by U.S. authorities at a detention center in rural New Mexico have endured retaliation rather than aid after reporting unsanitary conditions at the government-contracted jail, a coalition of civil rights advocacy groups said Wednesday. A public letter signed this week by at least a dozen migrants within the Torrance […]
11 hours ago
Pumpkins are loaded into a semi-trailer on Bill Sahs' farm, Monday, Sept. 12, 2022, in Atlanta, Ill...
Associated Press

Pumpkin farms adapt to improve soil, lower emissions

ATLANTA, Illinois (AP) — This Thanksgiving, your pumpkin pie might have a lower carbon footprint. On the central Illinois farms that supply most of the world’s canned pumpkin, farmers are adopting regenerative techniques designed to reduce emissions, attract natural pollinators like bees and butterflies and improve the health of the soil. The effort is backed […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

84-year-old Michigan anti-abortion canvasser shot, wounded

ODESSA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A man shot and wounded an 84-year-old Michigan woman who was canvassing door-to-door against a proposed constitutional amendment that would guarantee the right to abortion in the state. The State Police are investigating the Sept. 20 shooting at a home in Odessa Township, a community about 130 miles (209 kilometers) […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

Case against source for Trump dossier advances, barely

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A judge is allowing prosecutors to move forward with their criminal case against an analyst who provided key details for a flawed dossier on ex-President Donald Trump, although the judge called his decision “an extremely close call.” Lawyers for Igor Danchenko asked a judge Thursday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

Case against source for Trump dossier advances, barely

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A judge is allowing prosecutors to move forward with their criminal case against an analyst who provided key details for a flawed dossier on ex-President Donald Trump, although the judge called his decision “an extremely close call.” Lawyers for Igor Danchenko asked a judge Thursday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria […]
11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
USDA to help thousands of rural homeowners