Op-Ed

Rural housing an economic booster

On June 1, U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development kicked off National Home ownership Month and this year's theme is "Rural Housing, Rural Jobs"

The Obama administration is committed to ensuring that America's rural communities are vibrant and thriving economically, and USDA has made an unprecedented commitment to this goal by supporting affordable rural housing.

Statistics show that housing programs like those offered through Rural Development encourage people to invest in local economies. The sale of an existing median-priced home generates more than $58,000 in economic activity, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Rural Development plays an important role in providing loans for the purchase of safe, decent and affordable homes. The agency has two loan programs that benefit rural Kentuckians: the Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan program and the Single Family Housing Direct Loan program.

Rural Development has helped rural residents across the country live the American dream. In Kentucky last year, Rural Development helped more than 3,500 rural families purchase a home thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's nearly $388 million in funding.

Through May of this year, Kentucky's Rural Development staff helped more than 1,670 families buy a home and helped another 264 with repairs, pumping more than $188 million into the economy.

One of the many public events scheduled across the state to highlight National Homeownership Month includes a project involving many partners, including Rural Development, People's Self-Help Housing, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprises.

These agencies worked together to build and provide financing for an elderly widow's first home using the 502 Direct Loan Program.

It is not just any home. This super energy-efficient house in Vanceburg will use 75 percent less energy than a standard new home, important for a senior citizen on a fixed income.

The reduction is accomplished using some of the highest standards of energy-efficient construction. The house and is nearly airtight, has superior insulation and highly efficient triple pane windows, an energy recovery ventilator system and a hybrid heat pump water heater.

The home also features eight solar panels which provide most of the needed electricity from a clean, renewable energy source.

Expanding and preserving homeownership is an integral part of the foundation for a stronger, more prosperous rural America.

Rural Development, through its housing programs, is committed to the livability, sustainability and economic prosperity of rural Kentucky communities across the state.

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