Jones calls on USDA to resume ‘vital’ home loan programs

Published 3:45 pm Thursday, January 10, 2019

U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) is urging the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to resume its home loan programs aimed at assisting residents in rural communities across the country, according to a press release issued Thursday.

The department’s home loan programs have been stalled as a result of the ongoing government shutdown, now nearing the end of its third week – negotiations between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats have stalled, leaving little hope that the shutdown will be resolved any time soon.

Jones sent a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Purdue Wednesday and pointed out examples of other programs under the department’s purview, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and an extension of a deadline for American farmers to apply for tariff relief, that have already been extended.

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“By freezing these programs, the negative impact on rural communities grows each day the shutdown continues,” Jones wrote in his letter to Purdue. “Rural home buyer rely on the USDA, which serves as a critical facilitator and provider of rural mortgages. Without these USDA programs providing loans and loan guarantees, it will make home sales in many rural communities impossible.”

Jones noted “numerous” programs administered by the department to aid rural home buyers, including 502 Direct and Guaranteed loans, are not available.

Further, Jones cited the department’s own shutdown plan, which stated that being unable to administer grants and loans “for a prolonged period of more than two weeks would have an adverse impact on the rural economy.”

Jones called on the department to continue issuing loans for home buyers, just as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Federal Housing Administration have done.

“While I believe that these adjustments are only band-aids and not a lasting solution, I encourage the USDA to pursue every available legal measure to resume these loan programs and minimize the pain my rural constituents are feeling as a result of this costly shutdown,” Jones stated in the letter. “This shutdown needs to end. These critical USDA programs have nothing to do with the debate over border security, and I urge you to share with the President the significant damage the shutdown is doing to residents of rural communities across the country.”