Shelby visits Selma

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 16, 2004

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) announced at the end of yesterday morning’s town meeting at the Carl Morgan Convention Center that Selma and Dallas County residents who qualify are now eligible for no-down payment home mortgages.

The program is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

The USDA programs are available to citizens living in rural areas, towns and communities with a population under 20,000.

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The latest census figures show Selma has a population below that,

making Selma-Dallas County residents eligible.

Through USDA Rural Development, loans are available to purchase, to construct or to repair a home. Rural Development programs can assist households with very low to moderate incomes, and require no down payment. Some loans may have an interest rate as low as 1 percent.

According to Steve Pelham, state director for USDA Rural Development who appeared with Shelby on the platform when the announcement was made, the agency’s Guaranteed Home Loan Program enables mortgage lenders to provide 100 percent financing to qualifying families. The maximum adjusted income for a four-person household in Dallas County is $66,150.

Also available, he said, are home improvement loans for qualifying low-income and rural homeowners to remove health and safety hazards and to make homes accessible to people with disabilities.

Last year, Pelham said that USDA Rural Development invested more than $79 million through its homeownership programs for more than 1,300 rural Alabama households.

The USDA Rural Development office serving Dallas County is located in Camden. For information call (334) 682-4116.

Pelham said that plans are under way to provide an office in Selma

Shelby’s Town Meeting

Shelby began his remarks following a breakfast sponsored by the Selma-Dallas County Chamber of Commerce at the convention center that attracted about 100 participants.

He began by saying that he had worked hard to bring federal dollars to Selma and spoke of the importance of the city’s heritage and buildings. &uot;These landmarks,&uot; he said, &uot;are the heart and soul of the city and must be preserved.&uot;

Shelby spoke of other priorities, including the extension of I-85 between Birmingham and Meridian, Miss., a move that he believes would do more to improve the economic prospects for the Black Belt than any other single effort. &uot;If I could do one thing,&uot; he said, &uot;I would start that project today.&uot;

Shelby summarized the accomplishments of the Delta Regional Authority, which supports transportation, infrastructure improvement, job training, education and economic development.

The senator distanced himself from President George W. Bush’s position on immigration, stating that immigrants need to gain entry legally.

Noting that between 1994 and 2000, Alabama has lost 63,000 jobs which he said were due to U.S. trade agreements, Shelby at one point suggested that the United States employ Japanese, Chinese and French experts to show us how to keep from losing our industrial base. &uot;There’s no easy answer,&uot; he admitted.

Shelby expressed gratitude that the economy seemed to be picking up and then spoke about Iraq, saying, &uot;We cannot cut and run.&uot; He said that given the history and current divisions within that country, the United States is likely to be there for a very long time. The fight against terrorism, he said, could last a century.

Shelby ended by saying that he was running for re-election this fall and is taking nothing for granted.

A number of questions followed, on topics such as illegal immigration and how to stop it, the delay in Senate confirmation of federal judgeships, veterans’ benefits, the effect of the Bush tax cuts, and how to control crime.