Low-interest loan program to promote rural housing

Tuesday, January 25th 2005, 6:08 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Rural Oklahoma's economy will benefit from a low-interest loan program launched Tuesday that encourages development of affordable rural housing, state officials said.

The program will make $25 million available for low-interest loans to developers of affordable single- and multifamily housing units in rural areas, state Treasurer Robert Butkin said.

The additional housing will provide homes for workers at rural industries and manufacturers who otherwise would live in distant towns because of the lack of affordable housing, officials said. It will also create a stable work force for new businesses in rural areas.

``This program is a true economic development program,'' Butkin said.

``It will open the door for other industries to come into the state,'' said Rep. Dale Turner, D-Holdenville.

Studies have shown a need for 40,000 new housing units in the state, 30,000 in rural areas, the state treasurer said. A total of 17,000 of the rural housing needs are rental units.

Butkin said the program was the brainchild of former Gov. Henry Bellmon, who joined Butkin at a news conference where details of the Rural and Affordable Housing Linked Deposit Program were unveiled.

``He had found that the lack of affordable housing often held back rural economic development,'' Butkin said.

Bellmon said the lack of affordable housing makes it impossible for many rural Oklahomans to live in the same town where they work.

``This will make it possible to match the housing to the needs,'' he said.

Under the program, qualified developers can borrow up to $2 million to finance land acquisition, site development and construction of housing units in rural areas.

The program offers interest rate discounts by providing lending capital in the form of certificates of deposit to banks at a reduced interest rate. The banks pass along the savings to the borrower.

Housing financed by the program must meet sales prices or income requirements for the intended occupants.

Butkin said the sales price of single-family homes will range from $56,000 to $130,000. Rental costs will vary from county to county depending upon the area's median family income.

The Legislature authorized the program two years ago but its implementation was delayed until interest rates began to rise. The Oklahoma Housing Finance Authority will receive the initial applications and certify whether developers are qualified to participate.