NEWS

USDA reverses North Liberty decision, residents will be eligible for rural loans

North Liberty, upon further consideration, the feds still count you as rural, 'in character'

Traffic passes a row of snow covered mail boxes along Mehaffey Bridge Rd. NE at Deer Run NE Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009 in rural North Liberty.  (Brian Ray/The Gazette)
Traffic passes a row of snow covered mail boxes along Mehaffey Bridge Rd. NE at Deer Run NE Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009 in rural North Liberty. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

After further consideration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has reversed itself and decided North Liberty residents will continue to be eligible for Rural Development home loans.

Last week, the USDA Rural Development office in Des Moines announced that North Liberty residents would no longer be eligible to receive USDA Rural Development home loans after Feb. 2.

Bill Menner, USDA Rural Development state director, said North Liberty no longer met the definition of “rural” for the purposes of USDA’s rural housing programs.

When The Gazette’s Jan. 9 story reached the USDA’s housing program directors in Washington D.C., they did some additional research on the rural definition and how it should be applied to North Liberty.

“After further clarification of USDA Rural Development’s requirements pertaining to eligible rural areas in the new farm bill, residents in the city of North Liberty will remain eligible to receive USDA Rural Development housing loans until at least Sept. 30, 2015,” said Darin Leach, a spokesman for the agency’s Des Moines office.

Leach said Sept. 30 is the current deadline to begin implementing the new farm bill’s “rural in character” rule change. He also said it is possible that the implementation deadline could be moved back.

Leach said his agency has notified lenders and Realtors of the decision to continue offering the loans through Sept. 30.

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The USDA Rural Development guaranteed home loan and direct home loan programs offer competitive interest rates, fixed terms and require no down payment to help eligible families living in rural communities and areas purchase homes.

Shannon Chase, housing program director for USDA Rural Development in Iowa, said 206 guaranteed loans were made to Johnson County residents by USDA Rural Development in fiscal year 2013 and fiscal year 2014 for a total of $32.9 million. Chase said a majority of the loans were approved for residents of North Liberty.

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