Homeownership creates foundation for brighter futures in rural Ohio


By Jonathan McCracken

Guest columnist

Living in a big city like Cleveland, Toni K. dreamed of moving closer to her daughter and family in rural Ohio. But because she relies primarily on her Social Security income, she was understandably concerned about her ability to buy a home. Fortunately, for millions of Americans, USDA Rural Development has been there to help make the dream of home ownership a reality.

With assistance from a local non-profit that helps eligible homeowners like Toni navigate the USDA Single Family Housing Direct Loan process, she secured a USDA loan and purchased a home. You can read more about Toni’s story here.

USDA Rural Development believes everyone deserves to live in a safe and affordable home. Whether owning or renting, having a place to call home is the foundation for so much else in life.

As I travel around rural Ohio, I’ve seen how USDA’s housing programs help lay this foundation for new opportunities and brighter futures.

Safe and affordable housing is critical for every community, and it is our shared responsibility to ensure everyone has access to those opportunities — from education and stable employment to better health care and healthy food.

In Ohio, we work hard to extend this opportunity to all eligible residents in our rural communities.

We know that increasing homeownership is key to a strong and resilient Ohio. Whether that’s helping a first-time buyer purchase a home or helping a senior make repairs so they can remain in their home, homeownership is a way to build equity and achieve stability.

That’s why, each year during June, USDA Rural Development celebrates Homeownership Month by sharing success stories and the resources we have available to help rural residents rent, purchase, repair, and build homes.

USDA also will highlight how we work with lenders and community partners so people can make a home in rural America, ensuring resources reach those who need them most.

That means helping people repair their homes after severe weather and keeping families in their homes during times of financial uncertainty.

We also understand different families have different needs, and homeownership may not always be the right fit. That’s why USDA provides rental assistance to help people find safe, affordable residences in rural areas.

Ultimately, we become invested in where we call home, and that’s what matters. Those connections make small towns and rural communities such wonderful places to live, work and raise families.

The Biden Administration knows home ownership is a pathway to the middle class and a way to pass down wealth to the next generation. USDA and our partners will continue to expand the reach of our housing programs so everyone in rural Ohio and across America can find a home that fits the stage of life they are in.

Join us this month to celebrate those we already have helped and those who may yet benefit from this life-changing assistance USDA can offer. To learn more about our housing resources, visit our website or call 614-255-2400.

Jonathan McCracken is state director for USDA Rural Development in Ohio. Recently, he served as a senior advisor to U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH. For the past 15 years, he served in legislative positions in agriculture, rural development, food, nutrition, energy, and environmental policy. A native of Wilmington, Ohio, he is a graduate of Wake Forest University and the George Washington University Law School.

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