BENNINGTON >> The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Department has launched a pilot program that changes the income eligibility requirements for their single family housing programs in Vermont.
In the past, eligibility for 504 Home Repair Loan and Grant and 502 Direct Home Loan programs was determined by a strict formula based on how many were in a household, and each household size, from one person to eight people, had a different upper limit for adjusted gross income. Now, the requirements have been simplified so that there are only two-tiers: Households of one to four and households of five-eight. "This banding significantly increases the range of households eligible for Rural Development's Direct Home Loan Program and the Home Repair Loan and Grant Program," according to a press release from the USDA.
The new income limits were announced at the end of June. Under the previous guidelines from the USDA, which were approved in April 2015, in order to qualify for the Home Repair Loan and Grant program, annual income for a single-person household had to be below $22,650 for Bennington County. For a two-person household the limit was $25,900, and it increased to $29,150 for three people, $32,350 for four people, $34,950 for five people, and $37,550 for six people. Now, under the new guidelines, households with one to four people can now be eligible as long as they are under an annual combined income of $32,350. For families of five to eight, the upper limit is now $42,750.
For the Direct Home Loan program, the previous limits were $36,250 for a one-person household, $41,400 for two people, $46,600 for three people, $51,750 for four people, $55,900 for five people, and for $60,050 six people. Under the new requirements, households of one to four people cannot make more than $51,750 and households of five to eight cannot make more than $68,300.
"Home Repair Loans and Grants provide funds to elderly and very-low-income homeowners to remove health and safety hazards, perform necessary repairs, improve or modernize a home, make homes accessible for people with disabilities, or make homes more energy efficient so these very-low-income families use less of their income on utility bills," according to the USDA's website.
The Direct Home Loan program, according to the same website, "assists low- and very-low-income applicants obtain decent, safe and sanitary housing in eligible rural areas by providing payment assistance to increase an applicant's repayment ability. Payment assistance is a type of subsidy that reduces the mortgage payment for a short time. The amount of assistance is determined by the adjusted family income."
For more details, and information on how to apply for these programs, you may contact Bennington County USDA contact Deborah Boyd at 802-257-7878 ext. 102, or by email at Deborah.Boyd@vt.usda.gov.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.