SPARTA, Wis. - A rural home loan program is allowing some area residents to become first-time home buyers.
The United States Department of Agriculture, through its Rural Development program, offers direct home loans for low-income families.
While it's a program that's been around for many years, officials at Consumer Credit Counseling Services in La Crosse have just recently become certified to process these loans.
So far they've helped six families, that otherwise couldn't buy homes of their own.
Between being a single mom and having a full-time job, Jorden James's life can be a little hectic.
"Getting a kid ready in the morning before going to work, picking him up before day care closes with all the traffic in La Crosse can be hard,” James said.
For years, James has dreamed about purchasing her own home.
"It was important for me when I was younger to be able to play in my own backyard,” she said.
And while she had good credit, it wasn't quite high enough.
"It was literally eight points off from what they wanted to do in a conventional loan,” James said.
That's when she came in contact with Majel Hein at Consumer Credit Counseling Service in La Crosse and the USDA's direct loan home program.
"It's a loan that's designed to help populate rural areas,” Hein said. “Rural is defined as a population 35,000 or less, and people get subsidies for the amount of kids that they have or children, and they end up getting a lower payment because they are lower income."
James qualified for the loan, and she ended up finding a four-bedroom home in Sparta for $150,000, essentially paying the same as the rent for her apartment.
"I paid $725 a month without anything included. Here, with my home insurance and taxes and my mortgage, I pay $739 a month, which really is only a $14 difference, which is insane,” James said.
Under a traditional loan, James would have ended up paying nearly $1,300 a month.
"It's definitely a hidden secret in the state and a neat thing that we were able to get Jorden qualified for,” Hein said.
And James is thrilled to call this place her home.
"That's the number one thing -- a roof over my head, a roof over my kid's head, somewhere where we can grow up,” James said.
According to Consumer Credit Counseling Service, low-income is defined as any individual making less than $39,400 a year.
The loan requires no down payment.
Every two years, James will have her financials reviewed, and depending on her situation, she could transfer to a traditional loan, but her interest rate of 2.8 percent will never go up.
Contact Consumer Credit Counseling Services at (608) 784-8380 to learn more information about the program.
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