USDA Celebrates National Homeownership Month
SAN JUAN – U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack kicked off National Homeownership Month Monday by highlighting the USDA’s role in helping 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 1 million rural families and individuals realize their dream of homeownership. This year, our celebration of National Homeownership Month will focus on some of the many organizations that have worked with us to make this achievement possible.”
José Otero-García, USDA Rural Development State Director for Puerto Rico indicated that the agency has invested some $2.62 billion since 2009 to support rural homeownership. In 2015 alone, the department invested about $277.2 million to help 2,464 rural families buy or make repairs and safety upgrades to their homes.
The agency recently announced a series of changes that will make faster and cheaper for rural homeowners with USDA backed mortgages to refinance their loans and save money with a lower interest rate. The changes take 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 modification for people with disabilities.
According to the USDA, since 2009 its Rural Development program has invested $11 billion to start or expand 103,000 rural businesses; helped 1.1 million rural residents buy homes, funded nearly 7,000 community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care facilities; financed 180,000 miles of electric transmission and distribution lines; and helped bring high-speed Internet access to nearly 6 million rural residents and businesses.
For additional information, contact Miguel Ramírez, public affairs coordinator, at 787-766-5708 or visit www.usda.gov/pr.