Tony Hernandez, USDA Rural Development’s (RD) Rural Housing Service Administrator, visited VHFA to share his plans for RD’s programs and policies for the future. The roundtable format brought together 20 housing leaders from across the state including Rutland, the Northeast Kingdom, and northwestern Vermont.
RD administers two mortgage programs that help rural Vermonters buy homes: the single-family direct loan program and the guarantee program that helps homebuyers who do not have 20% of the home’s price for a down payment. Mr. Hernandez discussed his agency’s work to improve processing and increase automation, which he hopes will improve the current servicing backlog on existing loans as well as speed up processing new loans. He also described similar automation improvements for new multifamily rental properties applying for RD funding.
At the national level, RD is facing a preservation crisis as many of the affordable housing units it funded years ago become at risk of converting to market-rate housing. Thankfully, Vermont’s housing policies as well as the stewardship of the state’s housing leaders and non-profit housing network has limited the impact of this crisis within Vermont. That said, there is at least one property just over the Vermont border that may strain the housing market in border towns if it converts to market rate in the near future.
The roundtable meeting at VHFA was just one stop in Mr. Hernandez’ full day of Vermont activities which also included a visit to Colchester to celebrate National Homeownership Month as well as a visit to recent housing developments in Shelburne to promote a new pilot program that supports lending for energy efficient manufactured housing.
By Maura Collins, VHFA Director of Administration and Policy.
Pictured (from L to R): Tony Hernandez, Rural Housing Service; Sarah Carpenter, VHFA; David Adams, VHFA; Josh Hanford, VT Department of Housing and Community Development; and Polly Nichol, VT Housing and Conservation Board.