USDA Rural Development grant funds homeownership counselingMarsha McLean
February 24, 2005 U. S. Senator Richard Burr and John Cooper, USDA Rural Development State Director, presented a check for $79,330 to Elizabeth City State University Chancellor Mickey L. Burnim and Morris Autry, director of the ECSU Community Development Program, at a special celebration and kickoff held at ECSU. The grant award is to initiate a program that will inform the public on homeownership. Congressman G. K. Butterfield and Ms. Janet Bradbury, eastern representative for Senator Elizabeth Dole, also attended the event. The housing technical and supervisory assistance grant funds will be used to assist 200 low income rural families with the procedures for home buying in northeastern North Carolina. Elizabeth City State University's Community Development Program will manage and implement the grant services. The services will include one-on-one counseling sessions, seminars and workshops, referral services and related technical assistance methods. "We are pleased to participate in this partnership with Elizabeth City State University to increase homeownership opportunities in rural northeastern North Carolina," commented John Cooper. "The Bush administration has committed to increase minority homeownership by 5.5 million families. In support of this initiative, Rural Development has set a goal of increasing credit counseling and homeownership education to ensure that more families are able to successfully become and remain homeowners." Chancellor Burnim agreed that while the initiative supports the national agenda, it is of great importance to the citizens of northeastern North Carolina. "Our Community Development Program has had an extensive track record in providing housing assistance to the community. Being in partnership with the USDA Rural Development program for such a worthwhile initiative allows us to fulfill our mission to strengthen economic development in the region. This new grant from the USDA will help us provide homeownership and delinquency counseling to low income rural families in 11 counties. Increased homeownership is important to individuals, the housing industry and the local tax base." USDA Rural Development's mission is to deliver programs that will support increasing economic opportunity and improve the quality of life of rural residents. As a venture capital entity, Rural Development provides equity and technical assistance to finance and foster growth in homeownership, business development, and critical community and technology infrastructure. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA's web site at http://www.usda.gov.