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Montana Rural Development State Executive Director Charles Robison

CHARLES ROBISON

Homeownership is central to the American dream. A place to retreat after a long day at work, a place to raise a family, a place to call your own.

While many have the goal of owning their own home, many Montanans today are challenged financially. Purchasing a home can be an expensive and daunting task.

Rural homeownership is a major driver of rural prosperity. When rural Montana prospers, all Montana prospers. Fortunately, the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development has programs that make rural homeownership in Montana possible for families without other options or resources. Within the past five years, USDA has guaranteed more than 5,000 home loans and issued more than 200 direct home loans throughout rural Montana.

USDA offers single-family housing programs to help eligible Montanans in rural areas. USDA’s home loan guarantee helps rural families purchase homes with private-sector loans. Our direct home loan program provides USDA loans directly to low-income applicants who could not qualify for a home loan otherwise. USDA payment assistance can help low-income families reduce their monthly payments. This program makes homeownership possible for those who cannot get a mortgage from a private lender.

The home loan guarantee and direct home loan programs have no application fee and require no down payment, though some lenders may add fees. Through these programs, USDA provides affordable fixed rate financing with the possibility to finance closing costs and repairs. These programs are flexible and can be used to purchase an existing home, to build a new home, or to buy and prepare a lot for new construction.

Rural Development also offers a mutual self-help housing program that helps low-income families build their own homes. With the lack of affordable housing in many rural areas, this program provides additional resources for Montanans in need.

When we work together, Montana prospers. Not only does USDA help Montanans have a roof over their heads, but we also help keep rural homes free from health and safety hazards. USDA offers low interest home repair loans to rural low-income home owners and rural home repair grants to very-low income seniors.

This month the Trump Administration is celebrating the 70th anniversary of USDA’s Rural Housing Program. These USDA programs make homeownership a reality for rural families who could not afford a home without help. Providing affordable homeownership promotes prosperity, which in turn creates thriving communities and improves the quality of life in rural areas.

To learn more about housing programs from USDA and to see if you are eligible, please visit www.rd.usda.gov. At the bottom of the webpage, click on “Check Eligibility,” then select Single Family Housing. If you would like to apply for a USDA home loan, call our Bozeman office at 406-585-2515. We are here to help.

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Charles Robison is the USDA Rural Development Montana state director.

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Opinion Editor

Opinion editor for The Billings Gazette.