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Published:September 14th, 2005 14:18 EST

Illinois - Housing Program Provides Residents of Rural Areas Loans, Grants to Purchase Homes

By Matthew Kent

Illinois - A program that provides low-interest loans and grants to residents of rural areas will now be available to some homebuyers in Carbondale.

Because Carbondale was recently reclassified as a "rural" community - one that generally has a population of 20,000 or less, qualified residents are eligible to purchase a home with no money down or without paying mortgage insurance under the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development housing program.


The change came after Mayor Brad Cole and City Manager Jeff Doherty worked with U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville, who passed legislation through Congress authorizing the change. There are two types of loan programs provided through the program: guaranteed loans and direct loans.

With a guaranteed loan, a person with a maximum income of $46,300 would be eligible while a four-person family would be eligible if their income didn't exceed $66,150. There is also no maximum purchase price and no monthly mortgage insurance with this loan.

Under the direct loan program - generally for low-income families who would have difficulty getting a loan from a bank - a single person could have a maximum income of $27,350 while the income of a family of four could not exceed $39,050.

With this loan, the home cannot exceed a maximum purchase price of $139,600. In a meeting Thursday at the Carbondale Civic Center, James Gage, manager of USDA Rural Development, talked about credit counseling and the importance of having a good credit score in buying a home.

"Credit counseling is a much-needed thing in this area, especially with a college population," Gage said. He also said anyone with bad credit that meets the requirements will get help.

"We will guide them through the beginning steps of what they can do, but once we give them the steps, it's still their responsibility for following up on those steps," Gage said.

Joan Messina, spokeswoman of the USDA Rural Development program, said the program would make housing affordable in Carbondale to those who otherwise couldn't buy a home.

"If Carbondale didn't have the same designation as other communities, it would hurt Carbondale economically," Messina said. "It's a golden opportunity for a first-time buyer."

Messina said another benefit to this program would not be paying mortgage insurance, which is a savings of $100 a month. The Rural Development program also provides rental assistance to people eligible as well as providing repair loans to low-income families. Repair loans are used to preserve the maintenance of housing.

"This will provide more income to the community, and homeowners will be contributing to the welfare of the city," Messina said. "The best thing a community can have is home ownership."

For more information, you may go to the Illinois USDA Rural Development Web site at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/il