GARDEN CITY, Kansas – Until recently the USDA considered “rural” to be 20,000 people or less, meaning some communities, like Garden City, couldn’t benefit from rural programs.
“We don’t qualify for urban [incentives], and we didn’t qualify for rural,” said Finney Count Economic Development Corporation President Lona DuVall. “So, this kind of bridges that gap, especially for people in Kansas.”
By tweaking the definition of rural from 20,000 to 35,000 people, the USDA can offer housing loans to three new towns in Kansas; Garden City, Dodge City, and Lansing. They’ll also be able to continue helping towns that have grown larger than 20,000 since the 1990 census report. It’s a change they said addresses one of their main goals.
“Our focus is to help rural communities thrive,” said Director of Single Family Housing Kent Colwell, “whether that be through business loans, housing loans, whatever program they need help with.”
The USDA offers single and multi-family housing loans. Colwell said the big problem they help families overcome is taking care of initial costs, like their down payments. With good credit some families can get one hundred percent of the appraisal cost covered.
Colwell said it is a way to entice people to buy homes in rural areas, while ensuring a better quality of life…
“Unfortunately the population centers tend to get most of the attention. So anything we can do to keep the spotlight on the rural areas and the great quality of life we experience out here is a good thing for Kansas,” DuVall said.
The USDA has to go through a few final touches, but they expect to put the change into effect on May 6th.
While they wait, Dodge City said they are working with local bankers and advisors to prepare for residents who may want to use the program.