May 26, 2020
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USDA loan program helps young couple buy first home in Brewer

BREWER, Maine — Rebecca Allen and Reed Branscombe, both 26, weren’t sure they’d be able to find a home they could afford that had the master bedroom and bathroom on the first floor to accommodate her disability.

But with assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Single-Family Housing Guaranteed Program they purchased a two-story, three-bedroom home on Parker Street in Brewer and moved in last month.

Because of a childhood accident, Allen has back issues that give her difficulty with mobility and is on disability. Branscombe, who grew up in Brewer, works as a draftsman.

A press conference was held Thursday outside the couple’s new home to explain the program and to celebrate the purchase by the young couple, who would like to start a family.

The program, which guarantees loans in rural areas, allowed them to buy the house without a down payment, according to Virginia Manuel, who heads the program in Maine. It is geared toward moderate income individuals and families.

“Simply put,” she said, “homeownership is a conduit to neighborhood, family and community. The millions of homeowners assisted through USDA programs generate tremendous quality of life and economic benefits that ensure rural America remains a vital and prosperous place to live, work and raise a family today and in the future.”

Allen and Branscombe received a loan of $105,000 from Bangor Savings Bank to purchase the well-kept home, Manuel said. Their monthly mortgage payment is $760 compared with the $675 they paid previously in rent.

The program provides a 90 percent loan guarantee to approved lenders in order to reduce the risk of extending 100 percent loans to eligible rural homebuyers.

USDA Rural Development has invested more than $2 billion in Maine homeownership since 2000 and assisted more than 20,000 families in the state, according to Manuel. Since 2009, the USDA has invested more than $117 billion to support rural homeownership nationwide.

Since the federal fiscal year began Oct. 1, the program has helped 1,537 Maine families buy houses for $218.08 million, she said. In the year that ended Sept. 30, USDA Rural Development helped 2,085 families purchase homes.

There is $48.6 million available to Maine residents through the program, according to Manuel.

“Given that the average sale price of a home in Maine is approximately $185,000, this means that we still could help about 262 Maine families or individuals become homeowners,” she said.

Because of their population numbers, homes in the following municipalities do not qualify for the program: Lewiston, Auburn, Portland, South Portland, Westbrook, Bangor and Biddeford.

For information on the USDA Rural Development Single-Family Housing Guaranteed Program, call 990-3676, ext. 331.

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