Federal officials celebrated national Home Ownership Month in Norfolk, dedicating a house rehabilitated to fit the specific needs of an Army veteran who happens to be blind.
Timothy Miller has been renting for the past 17 years. He qualified for a special homeownership program run by the United States Department of Agriculture.
The state director for USDA Rural Development, Maxine Moul, says a partnership that included the USDA, The Norfolk Area Habitat for Humanity and Northeast Community College paved the way for Miller to move from a cramped apartment to his own home.
“So many groups; we’re just pleased that we could come in and help with the direct loan, 100% down payment and low interest rate,” Moul says. “We’re pleased to do that and celebrate that all across the state of Nebraska.”
The USDA used the Norfolk home to bring attention to its rural home ownership program and that this is Home Ownership Month. USDA Rural Development has nearly $146 million available to finance homes in rural Nebraska. In Miller’s case, the USDA provided full financing through the Rural Housing Direct loan program for the house, rehabilitated for under $60,000.
Habitat for Humanity and Northeast Community College worked to renovate a house that would fit Miller’s unique needs. Volunteers and students installed a special shower stall as well as a talking thermostat.
Moul says everyone worked together to make Miller’s dream of home ownership a reality.
“This would not have happened for Timothy without the partnerships,” according to Moul. “We can help with the loan, but with all of the other things that were donated and the help that was provided; he’s in his own home at the same price as rent for an apartment would be.”
Executive Director Donna Rector of the local Habitat for Humanity says the partnership with USDA helps her stretch limited dollars to serve more families.
“Since the USDA is able to provide the funds for us at one time, instead of us carrying the mortgage for 40 or 30 years, we have the money to start another house. So, that’s been the real blessing for us,” says Rector.
The USDA says that since 1979, Rural Development in Nebraska has assisted more than 22,300 families to buy their own homes and has provided more than $1.27 billion of home loans in the state.
For more information on the USDA housing programs, click here.
Susan Risinger, WJAG, contributed to this report.