In commemoration of National Homeownership Month and to honor the USDA’s Rural Development’s “50 years; 50,000 homes” milestone, the USDA Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez, the Ohio Rural Development State Director J. Anthony Logan, and the Community Action of Fayette County held a Self-Help Housing ribbon cutting event Wednesday afternoon in Frankfort.
Recently, USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack kicked off National Homeownership Month by highlighting USDA’s ongoing role to help residents of America’s small towns and cities purchase homes in rural areas. “Owning a home is one of the best ways American families enter the middle class,” Vilsack said. “USDA has helped provide home ownership for rural Americans for more than six decades. This year, we are marking the 50th anniversary of USDA’s Mutual Self-Help Housing program and are celebrating the 50,000th home built through it.”
The Mutual Self-Help program provides grants to help organizations carry out housing construction projects in rural areas. These organizations supervise groups of very low and low income individuals and families as they construct their own homes. The group members provide most of the construction labor on each other’s homes and get technical assistance from the organization overseeing the project.
By working with trusted local organizations, this program helps people get affordable, clean and safe homes of their own.
For instance, in California, Self-Help Enterprises has partnered with USDA since 1965 to help more than 6,100 very low and low income families build and own their own homes in the San Joaquin Valley. Though known as a top agricultural production region, the Valley also has one of the highest poverty rates in California.
Home ownership provides a strong foundation to help build household wealth, start a business or fund education through home equity. Since the creation of USDA’s single-family housing programs in 1949, USDA has helped more than three million rural residents access the American dream of home ownership.
Throughout June, USDA employees will celebrate National Homeownership Month with events across the nation that demonstrate USDA’s commitment to provide access to affordable housing for low and moderate income rural residents.
Since 2009, USDA invested more than $117 billion to support rural home ownership. In 2014 alone, USDA invested more than $19.9 billion to help nearly 140,000 rural families buy and maintain homes.
Amy Wilburn, a single mother of three children — Rylan Justice, Aidan Justice, and Brynn Justice – works at Proscan Imaging in Chillicothe and has been battling cancer over the past few years. The ribbon-cutting was held at her almost completed new home on Clime Road in Frankfort.
“I had to work to get my credit fixed for over a year before I could get this loan from the USDA,” said Wilburn. “But I cannot tell you how much this means to us. I cannot wait to get the keys to our new home and for this to finally be real. I am excited for you all to be here to see my new home and I am so grateful for this program. I cannot wait to walk through the front door with my family and say this is our home. It is a comfort just to know that my kids have a safe, affordable home to come home to.”
“This is more than just a structure,” Hernandez said. “This is a house. This is where you will pay the bills, this is where you will help the kids with their homework, this is where grandma will come over for Sunday dinner…okay, Monday, too. So on behalf of President Obama, we congratulate you and we welcome you to your new home.”