Mother, son buy house with USDA program

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 17, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; The move into their neat brick home a few months ago was a thrill for Jack Kimbro and his mother, Bertha Spillers.

The two are among many in rural areas nationwide who have stepped up to a new home through a special group of programs offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development offices.

&uot;This is one of the last and one of the best low-income programs in the country,&uot; said Natchez home builder Henry Watts, who helped the son and mother in their quest to upgrade their living quarters.

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&uot;They called me, and I showed them how to do it,&uot; Watts said. &uot;It makes me feel good to know how appreciative they are.&uot;

Indeed, Kimbro described the nearby mobile home they had occupied for about 10 years, drawing a comparison that was a far cry from the comfortable, attractive interior where they sat with visitors to talk about their experience.

&uot;The trailer had pressboard flooring and had gotten wet. The floor was falling in,&uot; Kimbro said. &uot;I tried to get a loan to redo the floors and fix the windows, but no one would give me a loan. I didn’t make enough money to qualify.&uot;

Finally, with some information about the Rural Development programs, Kimbro went to Michael Blackwell, community development manager at the Natchez office.

&uot;With both our incomes, we were able to qualify for the program,&uot; said Kimbro, referring to the Guaranteed Rural Housing Program.

Watts helped the family to cope with how the program works. For example, the money is not always available immediately after a family gets approval for the loan or grant because of the funding cycle that controls funds.

In addition, Watts helped by agreeing to build the home &045; something not every developer would be interested in doing, he said.

Kimbro agreed. &uot;Quite a few contractors won’t take a job like this because there’s not enough money in it.&uot;

Watts said he added a few extra touches at his own expense. &uot;I wanted them to be proud of their home.&uot;

Spillers said she could not be prouder. &uot;It was great moving out of the trailer into this house. It’s so much easier to keep up, and so much more comfortable.&uot;

The three-bedroom, two-bath house has central air and heat and is energy efficient with its double insulated windows and insulated doors, Watts said.

The mother and son have found their utility bills lower in the new home than in the mobile home.

Cheryl Warren, community development specialist in the Natchez Rural Development office, said the programs offered through that office continue to be important in rural areas such as Southwest Mississippi.

&uot;It’s especially beneficial for those people who are not able to secure conventional loans,&uot; she said.

Some of the programs include house payments adjusted to a family’s income. Some require no down payment. Some provide money for low-income home owners who want to make repairs to already existing homes.

Residents of many rural areas in Mississippi require assistance such as provided in the Guaranteed Rural Housing Program, which has grown to fill the needs of thousands of families that meet the income requirements but do not have the money for a downpayment.

Eligibility requirements differ from program to program. Officials with the Natchez office encourage families to check out various options to determine whether they qualify for a new home or for funds to upgrade their present home.

For the guaranteed loan program, for example, the Adams County guidelines require a family of four to have an annual income between $18,250 and $34, 700. A one-person household, on the other hand, could have an income between $12,800 and $25,950.

More information is available at the Rural Development office at (601) 442-5351, extension 4.