While traveling in the Mountain State, I have seen how USDA Rural Development housing programs can help entire families, realize dreams, change lives, and put down roots in a community. Over the years, rural development has helped nearly five million families and individuals across the country realize their dream of home ownership and in West Virginia, it’s no different.
One such person that comes to mind is Mrs. Amanda Tomey, a single mother of two in Randolph County. Ms Tomey had dreamed of owning her own home for some time before she made the decision to apply for rural development assistance. She was able to use our direct home loan program for single family housing and received the keys to her beautiful new home earlier this year and now enjoys the stability and security that comes with home ownership.
The Rural Development team has worked hard to provide opportunities for everyone in our communities across the state. We are advocates, investors and partners of rural communities and rural people; and in the last fiscal year alone, through grants, direct loans, and loan guarantees, rural development has invested more than $400 million in the state, providing opportunities for homeownership and repair to more than 2,500 West Virginians.
We know these investments increase home ownership, strengthen our rural communities, and help families and individuals build wealth and achieve financial stability. That’s why, every June, USDA Rural Development celebrates Homeownership Month by sharing success stories and highlighting the resources we have to help people buy, fix, build and rent houses.
Recently I visited a woman in her home in Raleigh County. This military veteran and senior living on a modest fixed income contacted Rural Development last winter for help with an outdated HVAC system that had broken down in her home. Through our home repair loan and grant program, we were able to help him replace his HVAC system at a time when reliable heating was vital. She said she was out of options and wasn’t sure what she would have done without the help the program provided. Her story is just one of many stories of people who received help when they had nowhere else to go for help.
The Home Repair Loans and Grants Program provides loans and grants to help eligible families and individuals repair and upgrade their homes to make them safer and healthier places to live – such as upgrades accessibility, removal of safety hazards, energy efficiency improvements, or necessary repairs or replacement of damaged roofs, electrical, plumbing or HVAC systems.
USDA Rural Development has many resources to support affordable housing and help rural residents pave the way to a brighter future, especially in historically underserved communities that need our help more than ever. And affordable, well-built housing is essential to the vitality of every community.
Under the leadership of President Biden and Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack, the USDA is ensuring that rural communities – especially those that have been neglected in the past – have equitable access to resources to own, have access to affordable, safe and decent rental housing, and critically need help to enable people to stay in their homes. This type of support is essential as residents of rural communities face rising housing costs and other economic challenges.
The Biden administration has already invested $26 billion to help nearly 150,000 people in rural communities buy, repair and build homes through USDA Rural Development single-family housing programs. This includes helping over 35,000 families and individuals living in socially vulnerable communities become homeowners.
The USDA will continue to expand the reach of our housing programs so that everyone in rural West Virginia and throughout rural America has the opportunity to find a home they deserve, a home that fits. at whatever stage of life they are at.
Join us this month as we celebrate the people we’ve already helped and reach out to others in rural America who may need this life-changing help from the USDA.
You can learn more about our housing resources by visiting our website at www.rd.usda.gov/wv or by calling 304-284-4860.
– Ryan Thorn is the USDA State Director of Rural Development in West Virginia. Born, raised and educated in West Virginia, Thorn grew up the son of a coal miner.