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USDA celebrates National Homeownership Month with Colchester family

From left: Vermont State Housing Authority Executive Director Richard Williams, USDA Housing Specialist Jill Chapman, Naweza Muderhwa of the Vermont State Housing Authority, new homeowners Herbert Collins and Dawn Pearce-Collins of Colchester, USDA Rural Development State Director Ted Brady, Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez, Leah Sare of the Vermont State Housing Authority and Chris Donnelly of the Champlain Housing Trust celebrate homeownership in the backyard of the Collins’ new home. CONTRIBUTED

From left: Vermont State Housing Authority Executive Director Richard Williams, USDA Housing Specialist Jill Chapman, Naweza Muderhwa of the Vermont State Housing Authority, new homeowners Herbert Collins and Dawn Pearce-Collins of Colchester, USDA Rural Development State Director Ted Brady, Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez, Leah Sare of the Vermont State Housing Authority and Chris Donnelly of the Champlain Housing Trust celebrate homeownership in the backyard of the Collins’ new home.
CONTRIBUTED

The nation’s top rural housing chief, Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez, celebrated National Homeownership Month last week with a Colchester family who purchased their home using a federal loan program aimed at rural areas.

Dawn Pearce-Collins and her husband, Herbert Collins, purchased their Colchester home this year using the United States Department of Agriculture’s direct loan program.

“USDA’s housing loan programs put homeownership within reach of hundreds of Vermonters each year — helping to build stronger rural communities, create jobs, and build equity,” Hernandez said in a press release about the event.

During Tuesday’s celebration, Hernandez joined USDA Rural Development team members and other non-profit housing partners in a day of service to the Collins family.  USDA officials, representatives from the Champlain Housing Trust and staff from the Vermont State Housing Authority cleaned up the Collins’ yard, planted a garden and helped make minor repairs to the Collins’ new home.

The USDA Rural Development’s direct loan program gives working-class rural Americans the ability to purchase a home with no down payment with a fixed, long-term interest rate.

Hernandez said the Collins’ success story was made possible thanks to partnerships with Champlain Housing Trust’s NeighborWorks Homeownership Center, with local organizations including the Vermont State Housing.

Authority, and with the help of a local real estate agent, Eric Jarvis of Keller Williams Realty.
Pearce-Collins and Collins started working with Champlain Housing Trust through the Ready, Set, Rent program two years ago.  Ready, Set, Rent helps people overcome credit barriers to renting an apartment — skills the Collins family translated to becoming ready to buy their own home. They attended classes, set goals and met with a CHT housing counselor to prepare for homeownership.

They worked with the Vermont State Housing Authority to convert their rental assistance into a homeownership voucher — an innovative program that allows a family to pursue homeownership with mortgage payment assistance.

The Collinses have three children. Dawn has worked at Walmart since 2012 and Herbert has worked at Hannafords since 2012.

During 2014, USDA Rural Development invested nearly $100 million to help more than 600 working-class Vermont families purchase or repair their homes.

For more information on Rural Development or to apply for a home loan, visit the Vermont Rural Development website (www.rd.usda.gov/vt) or contact USDA RD at (802) 828-6000.