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New Report Shows How Federal Programs Help Low-Income Rural Families Become Homeowners

Section 502 Direct Loans and Self-Help Housing top list of cost-effective federal housing programs

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- A new report issued by the National Rural Housing Coalition details how two USDA programs have expanded homeownership opportunities to the nation's poorest rural families – at little expense to the federal government.

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Over the past 60 years, more than 2.1 million low-income rural families have accessed affordable mortgages under the Section 502 Direct Loan program, which is credited with building more than $40 billion in wealth for the nation's rural poor. The Section 523 Mutual Self-Help Housing program is the only federal homeownership program of its kind; small groups of six to twelve rural families join together on nights and weekends to build each other's homes, reducing construction costs, earning equity, and making lasting investments in their communities.

The Coalition report presents key findings from their analysis of USDA program data. Overall, the report finds that despite serving families with limited economic means, these programs are among the most cost-effective federal housing programs. Section 502 Direct Loans cost an average $7,200 over the lifetime of the loan – less than the annual cost of other federal housing programs. Likewise, by providing at least 65 percent of the construction labor on each home – often more than 1,000 hours − Self-Help Housing families earn an average $27,000 in equity.

The report also shows that benefits extend beyond participating families to rural communities and the nation. In the past 5 years, the Section 502 Direct Loan program has led to the creation of over 100,000 jobs and $5.2 billion in local income. The Self-Help Housing program has resulted in nearly 18,000 jobs and $1.16 billion local income.

The report includes twelve success stories that illustrate how these programs have been used by rural families to become homeowners.

"Underlying this report is a simple truth: responsible homeownership continues to be the single, best, long-term investment for most Americans, and the primary source of wealth and financial security for low-income rural families," said Bob Rapoza, Executive Secretary of the National Rural Housing Coalition. "For many low-income families, these programs are the only available source of safe, decent, and affordable housing. Instead of cutting funding for these programs, Congress should invest in them as key ways to help improve access to affordable housing."

SOURCE National Rural Housing Coalition

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