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RAMP project increasing home ownership in Black Belt

Through a coalition of public and private agencies, a new program is enabling those who live in rural and poverty-stricken areas to find affordable housing.

The Rural Alabama Mortgage Program

is a pilot program designed to increase home ownership in the Black Belt and other rural Alabama regions by offering low-interest mortgages and entry-cost assistance.

RAMP is supported by agencies such as the Alabama Housing Finance Authority, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development division, and New South Federal Savings Bank.

Through RAMP, these agencies seek to finance more than 250 homes during the next two years.

U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, D-Birmingham, said he welcomes this new project and believes it could offer tremendous support for people who could not otherwise purchase their own home.

Davis said this joint program could help people in several ways, including offering down payment assistance and financial counseling.

The AHFA has already committed $10 million to finance half the purchase price of each home with the USDA providing a subsidized second mortgage for the balance.

In addition, the AHFA is offering up to $2,000 in down payment assistance funds for the home buyers’ paid items and other out-of-pocket expenses.

AHFA and the USDA Rural Development will use local banks to originate and close the mortgages.

Davis said those interested in the program can apply through one of USDA Rural Development’s 17 regional offices across the state.

The nearest regional office to Dallas County is located in Camden, at Three Camden Bypass. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The community development manager can be contacted at 334-682-4116, extension 4.