Sunday, April 14, 2024

USDA Rural Development Assistance

USDA Rural Development Assistance for Home Ownership & Home Repairs

See also: USDA Guaranteed Rural Housing Loan Program

Rural Development—an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA)—has a portfolio of programs to benefit rural communities.  Some of these programs have been around for a number of years but have not been widely understood or used.  In cooperation with Lycoming County, USDA Rural Development– USDA RD for short – wants to make you aware of programs that may offer valuable financial assistance to County residents who are geographically and financially eligible.

Who is geographically eligible?

The attached map shows the shaded areas within Lycoming County which are defined by USDA as being “urban,” thus, not eligible for USDA assistance.  County residents who reside OUTSIDE the shaded areas are considered “rural,” thus, are deemed geographically eligible for USDA to assist.  The boundary lines shown on the map are approximate – USDA should be consulted for a final determination of geographical eligibility.

Large Map - (130kB) includes city/township/street name labels
Small Map - ( 60kB) includes city/township labels

Who is financially eligible?

The attached income chart shows the maximum income that can be earned by Lycoming County families of various sizes and still be eligible for the USDA housing programs.  It is important to distinguish between Low Income (LI), which is roughly 80 percent of the County median household income, and Very Low Income (VLI) when you read the chart.

What are the two USDA RD programs best suited for homeowners’ needs?

"Home Mortgage"

Formal Name: Single Family Home Ownership
Program Number: Section 502
Objective: Offers mortgages (subsidized home loans) to enable low income people to purchase safe, well-built, and affordable homes
Home Type: Existing home or new construction
Loan Period: Normally 33 years—longer terms possible
Down Payment: None
Closing Costs: Paid upfront by applicant or wrapped into mortgage
Interest Rate: Depends on applicant’s income and debt load
Who Submits: Applicant could be a “low income” individual or a family—applicant does not need to be a “first time home buyer”
Credit Review: Good credit history for the last three years
Repayment Ability: Based upon ratios which compare principal, interest, taxes, and insurance to income, in addition to total debt to income
Inspection: Home inspection is required—any conditions that would result in code violation should be addressed
Maximum Loan: $186,300 for Lycoming County
Repairs: Mortgage could possibly include the cost of home repairs for the dwelling provided the home appraisal supports it and provided the cost of the mortgage plus repairs does not exceed the maximum mortgage amount

"Home Repairs"

Formal Name: Single Family Home Repair Loan and Grants
Program Number: Section 504
Objective: Help “very low income” applicants remove health and safety hazards or to make repairs to their homes
Ownership: Applicant must be the owner and occupant of the dwelling needing repairs
Estimates: Applicant required to obtain 2 or 3 estimates
Repair Contract: Contract is made between applicant and contractor
Examples: Winterizing (windows, insulation and required electrical upgrades), heating system repair or replacement, structural repair, water service connection; sewer lateral connection; sewer tap-on fee, roof repairs, and handicapped accessibility modifications
Inspection: Home inspection is required—any conditions that would result in code violation should be addressed
Types of Help: Grant
Limited to safety/health repairs & accessibility mods
Applicant is 62 or older
$7,500 maximum grant
Applicant agrees not to sell the property for 3 years
No age restriction
1% loan – maximum loan period of 20 years
Maximum loan amount is $20,000
Who Submits: Applicant would be a “very low income” individual or a family

Other USDA Programs

USDA Guaranteed Rural Housing Loan Program

How can I get more information?

Home Mortgage information and Home Repairs information may be obtained by contacting Judy Bartlett, USDA, 433-3008 ext 121 or email

The USDA prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexuality orientation or marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs). Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audio tape, etc.) should contact USDA's TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA. Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 14th and Independence Avenue, SW, Washington DC 20250-9410. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Financial Eligibility Guidelines USDA RD Programs as of January 18, 2012

Very Low Income
Maximum Income
Low Income
Maximum Income
1 $19,500 $31,150
2 $22,250 $35,600
3 $25,050 $40,050
4 $27,800 $44,500
5 $30,050 $48,050
6 $32,250 $51,600
7 $34,500 $55,200
8 $36,700 $58,750
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