USDA rural home repair loans and grants now available

Published 9:37 am Monday, July 27, 2015

With warmer weather, United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development is gearing up to help local homeowners finance home improvements through low-interest loans and grants.

“Now is a good time for homeowners to evaluate the need for necessary repairs or replacement of items such as a roof, electrical, plumbing and siding,” said Tom Traetow, area specialist for rural development’s southeast area. “Energy efficiency improvements through replacing windows and insulation also qualify. Funds can also be used to replace a furnace, sanitary disposal system and to make homes handicap accessible.”

Traetow said applicants must own and occupy the home and their income may not exceed guidelines established by county and household size. Income limits vary by county and average $25,000 for a one-person household and $28,500 for a two-person household in southeastern Minnesota. Income limits increase for larger sized households. Traetow recommends checking with the local USDA Rural Development office for income limits.

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Applicants must also have an acceptable credit history, show repayment ability, be unable to afford a conventional loan and live in a community with a population of 20,000 or fewer. Faribault, Northfield and Owatonna are eligible for the program as they are currently “grandfathered” in.

The maximum loan is $20,000, repayable over 20 years with a 1 percent interest rate.

Grants are limited to elderly homeowners over the age of 62, and can only be used to remove health or safety hazards or remodel dwellings to make them accessible to household members with disabilities. The maximum grant is $7,500.

For assistance in Blue Earth, Dakota, Dodge, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, LeSueur, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Scott, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca and Winona Counties, contact the USDA, Rural Development office at 1408 21st Ave NW, Suite 3, Austin, MN  55912 or call 507-437-8247, extension 4.