Chris Mabee Says Home Builders Help To Expand Rural Housing Options

Thursday, September 8, 2016 - by Chris Mabee, President of Home Builders Association Of Greater Chattanooga

The challenge of finding affordable homes isn’t exclusive to metropolitan areas. The desire to own a quality home is just as strong among those who live in smaller cities like Chattanooga and the more rural counties that surround it.

According to USDA Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez, the limited supply of affordable housing in rural America is a “very real problem.” For many families and individuals in these areas, plans of buying a safe and decent home are often delayed or derailed due to various financial obstacles.  

To help turn more of these homeownership dreams into reality, home builders and lenders are continually working together with USDA Rural Development to expand and simplify affordable housing options in rural areas.

This summer marks the 25th anniversary of the Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program. Since 1991, nearly 1.5 million rural residents have purchased homes with USDA loan guarantees. Just last year alone, the number of buyers who benefitted from the program totaled approximately 134,000.

But the program’s impressive numbers haven’t stopped builders, lenders and government officials from seeking out and creating additional ways to make homeownership more accessible.

As a component of USDA’s Guaranteed Loan Program, the Single-Close Construction to Permanent Home Loan option was created. It allows USDA to issue its 90 percent loan note guarantee before construction even begins.

This option gives home buyers the added peace of mind of knowing the construction of their home is fully funded. Plus, their lender can establish an interest reserve account to assist the buyer in making required payments during construction – a favorable alternative for many home buyers who might otherwise struggle to make payments on their under-construction home in addition to paying the mortgage or rent on their current home. 

Several more loan programs and services are offered to individuals through USDA, some of which include:

·      Single Family Housing Direct Home Loans – Provide payment assistance to low- and very-low-income residents who are without decent, safe and sanitary housing, and would otherwise be unable to obtain a home loan.

·      Single Family Housing Repair Loans & Grants – Offer very-low-income home owners competitive financing for repairs or improvements to their homes. Grants are provided to elderly, very-low-income homeowners to remove potential health and safety hazards from their homes.

·      Multi-Family Housing Direct Loans – Assist borrowers with financing for the construction, improvement and/or purchase of multi-family rental housing facilities to be designated for low-income families, the elderly or disabled.

·      Rural Energy for America Program – Provides guaranteed loans and grants to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for the purchase, installation and construction of renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements.

Home builders throughout Chattanooga want to do all they can to help make homeownership more attainable for more members of our community. For more information about rural housing programs, contact HBAGC at or 

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