May 28, 2018
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Winslow family praises Rural Development’s program to help with home ownership

By Julie Harris, BDN Staff

WINSLOW, Maine — USDA Rural Development highlighted Stephanie Basford and her three boys ages 9-17 as one of the latest families to receive help through its 502 Direct Single Family Housing Program in recognition of June as National Homeownership Month.

USDA Rural Development has invested more than $2 billion in Maine homeownership since fiscal year 2000, having assisted 18,879 Maine families during that timeframe, according to its press release.

The Basfords were living in unsafe conditions in a mobile home in Burnham that had frequent incidents of smoke and fire from a faulty electrical system, a malfunctioning heating system, poor insulation and a leaking plumbing system. But the USDA single-family housing program has allowed the Basfords to become first-time homeowners with a low-interest housing loan. Their new home is a tri-level building with gross living space of 1,542 square feet and a three-quarters finished basement.

“Being able to help families like Stephanie Basford’s family of Winslow to purchase a quality home in which to raise her children is a primary example of why USDA Rural Development’s housing programs are so essential. I am pleased that USDA Rural Development is able through its housing programs to finance one out of every five home sales in Maine, helping rural Maine families to overcome barriers to homeownership and build equity for a bright and more secure future,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel.

Basford said Thursday evening that she had signed up for the Fix ME program to make repairs to her mobile home, but the person who did the evaluation said it would cost $15,000-$25,000 to repair the 1989 unit. He referred her to USDA Rural Development, which then shepherded her through the purchase and loan process.

“The more [money] I put into the trailer, the less it seemed to help [fix the problems],” she said.

She and her family were ready to move into their Winslow home as soon as the closing occurred and said when they moved into the new house, it felt like it was meant to be. “The kids have their own rooms now, where before my son had to sleep in the living room,” she said.

Through the 502 Direct Loan Program, low interest loans are made directly by USDA Rural Development to applicants whose incomes are less than 80 percent of the median income for the area. The program helps residents purchase modest housing, construct new homes or repair pre-owned dwellings in rural Maine. There also may be subsidy provided.

This year’s homeownership month theme is USDA: Bringing Rural America Home. According to the USDA press release, it is providing guaranteed or direct financing for approximately one out of every five homes purchased in the state each year, having helped 1,634 Maine families own a home for a total investment of $223,832,712 already in fiscal year 2013.

Basford praised the partners in her quest for home ownership besides USDA Rural Development, including congressional staff, Northeast Housing Services LLC, Keller Williams Realty and the man who had owned the house she purchased.

“It’s a wonderful neighborhood, and I don’t have to worry about the kids’ safety,” she said.

“We love it.”

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