The U.S. Department of Agriculture has provided more than one-hundred-million dollars in housing assistance to Iowans buying homes in rural areas this past year. Mark Reisinger, director of U-S-D-A Rural Development in Iowa, says he’d be thrilled if more people took advantage of the programs they offer. “When we talk about economic development or rural development sometimes it’s lost upon people the importance of housing,” Reisinger says.

“I can guarantee that no community is going to thrive nor be able to bring business into that community or expand their economic base without sufficient housing.” Reisinger says his agency’s programs are generally available in communities with 20-thousand or fewer residents.

People can borrow directly from Rural Development or the U-S-D-A will guarantee loans made by other lenders such as banks or credit unions. They also have loans and grants available to help low income families and the elderly make needed repairs so they can remain in their own home.

U-S-D-A Rural Development also offers “self-help housing” in which participants organize in groups of six or ten families, using their own labor to reduce the total cost of constructing their homes.

Right now, Rural Development is working with a dozen such groups in Iowa. June is Home Ownership Month and U-S-D-A’s Rural Development in Iowa is celebrating with 15 events across the state, including home ownership workshops, housing fairs and lender meetings