USDA Provides Loans and Grants to Benefit Low-Income Homeowners

By Faith Bemiss, [email protected]

USDA Rural Development has implemented a program that benefits “very low income” people as well as seniors who need help repairing their homes.

Known as the Section 504 Home Repair Program, it helps homeowners who need to repair, improve or upgrade their home with a loan or grant to eliminate safety and security risks. health.

Information provided by the USDA indicates that the program is available because it wants to help people stay in and maintain their own homes. Owning a home and keeping it in good repair is good for both families and their communities. Owning a home helps families and individuals “build savings over time”, in addition to strengthening communities and “helps many types of businesses that support the local economy”.

Lindsay Cheek, director of the USDA single-family program and acting public affairs specialist in Colombia, said the program was first introduced and was governed by section 504 of the 1949 Housing Act, such as amended by part 7 CFR 3550.

“The program can provide loans to very low-income homeowners of any age,” she noted. “The grants are only available to very low-income homeowners aged 62 or over who are unable to repay a repair loan. “

Cheek added that the properties must be located in a qualifying rural area.

When asked if COVID has affected the program, Cheek said the program itself has not undergone any changes due to the pandemic.

“However, for existing borrowers who had to follow a payment moratorium related to COVID-19, the US Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) allocated additional funds for direct Section 502 and 504 loans. allowing the agency to refinance borrowers who have received a payment moratorium linked to COVID-19, ”she added.

To apply for the program, applicants must own and occupy the home, be unable to obtain affordable credit, and have a family income below 50% of the region’s median income. To apply for the grant, applicants must be 62 years of age or older and not be able to repay a repair loan.

The maximum loan that one can receive from USDA is $ 20,000 and the maximum grant is $ 7,500. The USDA said the loans can be combined up to $ 27,500 in aid. Loans can be repaid over 20 years at a fixed interest rate of 1% with loans of $ 7,500 or more requiring full title service.

Grants must be repaid if the property is sold in less than three years and if applicants can repay some, but not all of the costs, they may be offered a combination of loan and grant.

Applications are accepted at the Pettis County USDA Service Center, 1407 W. 32nd St. For more information, call 660-826-3339 or visit https://bit.ly/3oWPWdV. Applicants interested in the program can visit https://bit.ly/3p1r6tv to determine eligibility.

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