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Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), have voiced similar concerns about the president’s budget. At a committee hearing earlier this month, Rogers claimed the proposed reductions demonstrate USDA’s “lack of respect for our rural communities and the constituents who have made these programs successful.”
Rogers cited NRHC members Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, Frontier Housing and the Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprises (FAHE) as effective and successful organizations that have used USDA’s Self-Help Housing and Section 502 Direct Loan programs to help low-income, working families become homeowners.
Chairman Rogers voiced concern about how the president’s proposed cuts would affect families who benefit from these programs. For example, Rogers highlighted the story of a woman who had been the victim of extreme domestic abuse who called Kentucky Highlands hoping to find a home for herself and her young daughter. With some financial counseling and guidance from Kentucky Highlands, she was approved for a $66,000 Section 502 Direct Loan. And with the Self-Help Housing program, she was able to build her own home for about $35,000 less than it would have cost to hire a contractor. That means that today, she is living in a home that she can afford that she built with her own hands.
USDA has reported that this program has helped the agency save $1.5 million to date. “Because of this demonstration program, one of my constituents and his family were able to secure a 502 Direct Loan in half the time it normally takes for USDA to process the loans themselves. And because of that loan, he now lives in a new, energy-efficient, green home in Rowan County (Kentucky),” commented Rogers.
Section 502 Direct Homeownership Loans provide fixed-rate mortgages – with up to 38-year terms and subsidized interest rates as low as just one percent – to help low-income rural families gain access to clean, decent and affordable housing.