USDA provides opportunities for rural home ownership

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - June is homeownership month and the USDA Rural Development office in Iowa has options for buying or building a home in small towns.

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Every year, around 2,000 Iowans get help from the USDA to get a place to live through two low-interest and no-down-payment loan programs. There are income limits, but for families moving to the country to work in agriculture or helping develop small communities, the loans are needed support.

State Director of Rural Development Grant Menke said in the last 80 years the USDA has helped 4.4 million rural Americans with housing needs.

He says home ownership is foundational to small towns in enhancing economic opportunity and improving quality of life, which is the core mission of rural development.

"If you go across the state and ask people about what the most pressing needs are in rural communities, nine out of ten times you're going to hear housing and you're going to hear workforce. So we are very pleased to be a part of that solution," he said.

There are also opportunities for Iowans to build their own place with USDA loans. Rural Housing 360 teamed up with government agencies, businesses, and communities to offer several small floor building plans and get loans, putting new homes in small-town communities.

As an example, when Prestage Farms decided to build a new pork processing plant in 2016, they planned to hire nearly 900 workers who would need a place to live near Eagle Grove, Iowa a town of 3,500 people.

USDA loans could help those workers find a place to live.

Menke says he's happy to be a part of the solution addressing rural housing needs.

"And there's a lot of building happening in rural communities right now. You're seeing businesses, manufacturers expanding in a lot of parts of the state and that's where that workforce and housing, those dual critical needs come together," he said.