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USDA Rural Development Allocated Almost $100 Million for PR
$25.4 mill still available for current fiscal year
By LIDA ESTELLA RUANO
July 29, 2004
During fiscal year 2004 (FY 2004), the U.S. Department of Agricultures (USDA) Rural Development has made $98.3 million in loans, loan guarantees, and grants available to rural residents in Puerto Rico to purchase or repair their homes.
Since its establishment in Puerto Rico in 1949, Rural Development, formerly known as the Farmers Home Administration, has made it possible to finance 45,000 new housing units. Of the funds allocated for this year, $25.4 million is still available.
State Director Jose A. Otero Garcia said so far this year, $54.3 million has been obligated for 560 guaranteed loans. These are loans made by commercial banking institutions that are guaranteed by the USDA Rural Development. Additionally, 110 repair loans, (called 504 repair loans) and 125 grants for home repair (which require no repayment) have also been granted. Funds from the three programs total $18.6 million.
The remaining funds must be claimed by Sept. 30. Still available are some $20 million in guaranteed loan programs, $5 million in the direct loan program, $350,000 in the 504 repair loans segment, and $50,000 for the 504 repair grant segment. In Puerto Rico, only San Juan is excluded from the program because it is considered totally urban. In the remaining municipalities, all districts with fewer than 20,000 residents, according to the 2000 Census, are eligible.
Direct loans go to those with incomes under 80% of the median in their areas. Many recipients earn less than 50% of the median. With these loans, homebuyers arent required to make down payments and interests charged are less than what is available through commercial banks. It especially targets first-time homebuyers. The repair loan and grant programs are aimed at the poorest homeowners; the guaranteed loans are for those with slightly higher incomes.
Otero Garcia said Puerto Rico has a higher rate of homeownership (81.6%) than the U.S. mainland, which stood at 68.6%. Ironically, stateside rural areas, which traditionally are poorer than urban areas, have higher homeownership rates (75.6%). Otero Garcia said more than 2 million rural families in the U.S. mainland and Puerto Rico have benefited from the direct loan programs.
This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.