Today the American economy is continuing to heal from the great recession. Unemployment rates are falling, and we’ve added private sector jobs for two straight years. That means more than 4 million Americans are back on the job.
At the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we’re focused on growing the economy in rural America and I am proud of what we’ve accomplished.
One important part of our work has been supporting homeowners who are getting back on their feet – and just recently, USDA was able to take a new step to help.
While things are moving in the right direction, President Obama and I know that there is much left to be done to heal the economy. At a time when Congress won’t act, we are committed to doing all we can to keep the recovery moving forward.
This includes helping folks who are working hard, but who may be having trouble with a mortgage payment.
We all know that over past years, too many hardworking Americans were forced to watch their home values plummet because of a financial system that took wild risks with the savings they earned.
That’s why a few weeks ago, USDA announced a pilot program in 19 states, known as the Single Family Housing Guaranteed Rural Refinance Pilot Program, to help homeowners lower their monthly payment.
The idea of this pilot program is simple. Anyone with a home loan that’s made or guaranteed by USDA is eligible, as long as they’ve paid their mortgage on time for at least one year. For these borrowers, USDA will help refinance a mortgage at today’s historically low interest rates.
That refinanced loan means a working family will have a few more dollars each month to help pay bills, buy groceries or save for college. And no matter what, it will give those families peace of mind in one of the most important investments they’ll ever make.
This program has the potential to help thousands of families around the country refinance under the pilot program. USDA has made more than 450,000 home loans in 21,000 rural communities since 2009, and about 235,000 borrowers are eligible to refinance in these 19 pilot program states.
This is just one more step we’ve taken to fight for middle class families who are rebounding from the greatest recession most of us have ever seen. As this recovery continues, we must and will do all we can to give these folks a leg up.
The fact is, if you play by the rules and work hard, you deserve the chance to build wealth and invest in the future – not watch your home value go down as your mortgage rate goes up.
That’s why I look forward to carrying out a pilot program that gives that chance to as many homeowners as possible. And that’s why we will continue to stand up for rural America as the Obama administration helps grow an economy that’s built to last.