USDA offering low-interest home loans

If you live in Warren County and think home ownership is just out of reach, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) may be able to help, but time is limited.

The USDA’s Rural Development Housing Program has approximately $23 million available to aid low-income, rural residents in making home ownership a reality, according to Housing Program Director Jack Kauffman.

The loans are through the 502 Direct Loan Program and is administered jointly through USDA’s Harrisburg and Meadville offices.

Loans require no down payment, have a typical term of 33 years and interest rates as low as one percent.

Eligibility for the program is based on household income and county. For example, in Warren County a family of four making up to $27,950 is eligible. Applicants must also be purchasing a home in an eligible area.

“Parts of Erie and around Erie are not eligible,” Kauffman said, adding the entirety of Warren County is an eligible area.

Payments are income-based.

“It varies with a number of factors,” Kauffman said. “They (home buyers) receive a subsidy so their total principal, interest and taxes don’t exceed roughly 26 percent (of income).”

The program provided approximately 150 loans throughout Pennsylvania last year and has funding to provide even more.

According to Kauffman, “This year, we can probably double that if we spend all of our money.”

Time to apply is limited this year due to federal budget issues, Kauffman said.

“We have money until sometime in September of this year,” he said. “We have a relatively short time-frame to use the money this year. If they’re (residents) interested, they should apply quickly.”

Potential applicants should contact Susan Hyde at the USDA’s Meadville offices at 814-336-6155, ext. 115, for more information or to apply. Applications are also being accepted by mail at USDA/Rural Development, 14699 N. Main St. Ext., Meadville, PA 16335.

Applicants should be prepared to provide several years of pay slips and tax returns and to pay a $32 credit report fee.