The Louisiana Housing Corporation and The US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Program hosted an informational session Monday, August 15 in the City Council Chambers. The Natchitoches session was the only second one to be held on the two agencies’ 20-stop tour of the state. The informational sessions are designed to let interested citizens, officials, and community leaders know about the many opportunities offered by the two agencies and how they can work in tandem to build up rural communities. State Senator Louie Bernard, State Representative Rodney Schamerhorn, and Mayor Ronnie Williams were joined by city council members Petite, Washington, Nielsen, Sawyer-Smith, and a group of about 20 area residents.
The two agencies, one state and the other federal share a common mission of helping rural areas thrive and grow. Some of their programs can also work together, providing synergy for people using them. One example would be a USDA Rural Development home loan. In some cases, one may also obtain a “soft second” home loan from the Louisiana Housing Corporation. This would enable the purchaser to obtain a more costly property than either loan separately. In addition, the “soft second” loan will be forgiven after a period of satisfactory payments. The agency also administers Louisiana’s Section 8 housing program, serving over 15,000 Louisiana residents.
The Louisiana Housing Corporation is a state agency that sponsors 23 different programs ranging from help with utilities and weatherization to home loans. The agency had a $1.7 billion dollar impact on our state last year, giving 601 first-time home buyers a shot at the American dream and assisting over 56,000 households with energy assistance. The agency’s loans are at a competitive interest rate and are aimed at households at 30% to 80% of the area median income. The agency also offers classes to its customers designed to help them with developing budgets, raising credit scores, and getting ready for the responsibilities of home ownership.
The USDA Rural Development Program is a federal agency with 40 programs to offer citizens in our state’s rural areas. Last fiscal year, the program guaranteed over $1.5 billion dollars in loans and $62 million dollars in grants for Louisiana residents and their communities. The USDA Rural Development Program is perhaps best known for its home loans, but they offer much more. In the words of State Director Deidre Deculus Robert, “We can build a community from the ground up”. The agency offers rural communities loans and grants for everything from water & sewage projects to community centers, police stations, and other things a community needs.
Interested individuals may check the agencies’ websites for more information. Louisiana Housing Corporation’s site is Louisiana Housing Corporation (LHC) (la.gov) while the USDA Rural Development’s site is Rural Development (usda.gov).