Senators hope to expand rural loan program

We’ve told you before about the USDA’s rural-housing loan program, which provides no-down-payment loan for rural homes.

Now two U.S. senators hope to expand the program’s definition of “rural” even further, so more people can take advantage of the program.

In the past we were concerned whether some areas of Virginia would lose eligibility because they’ve outgrown the definition of “rural.” (We urged you to fight those changes — to delay them until the housing market was better recovered.)

This time the issue is about expanding the program (not just preventing it from shrinking).

The USDA defines a rural area as one one with a population of no more than 25,000 persons. Now senators Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Pat Roberts (R-KS) are introducing a bill to raise that population cap to 35,000 . at least until the next Census in 2020.

It’s not easy to say what effect that will have on Virginia; it will only make a difference in areas that are on a border between rural and suburban, as most of the state is classified as rural already. (If you feel like going through census-tract data and figuring out what areas will be affected, let us know.)

For example, check out a section of the USDA’s map of Virginia. Everything that’s not peach colored is rural:

In a science-fiction show, those would be the Badlands.

How far this will go is anyone’s guess.

About Andrew Kantor

Andrew is VAR's editor and information manager, and -- lessee now -- a former reporter for the Roanoke Times, former technology columnist for USA Today, and a former magazine editor for a bunch of places. He hails from New York with stops in Connecticut, New Jersey, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Roanoke.
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