EAST WILTON — A Memorandum of Understanding will make a difference for seniors and families in Franklin County.

USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel joined Western Maine Community Action Executive Director Fenwick Fowler to sign the Memorandum of Understanding in front of WMCA’s senior staff.

The agreement immediately allows WMCA to begin packaging USDA Rural Development’s Single-Family Housing Section 502 Direct and Single-Family Housing Section 504 Repair and Rehabilitation Loan and Grant Programs.

The programs will increase opportunity for homeownership and housing rehabilitation, with an emphasis by WMCA on seniors in the Franklin county area.

There is a need for assistance to help seniors in Franklin County remain in their own homes, with over 540 elderly households in need and 28 percent of those eligible for the Section 504 Repair and Rehabilitation Loan and Grant Program.

Manuel said, “I am so pleased to sign the Memorandum of Understanding with Western Maine Community Action today, which will have a lasting impact on families and seniors in Franklin County and build on our long-standing partnership. Assisting in the dream of homeownership and helping our Maine seniors remain in the homes they have such pride in is critical to supporting one of our greatest assets and sustaining healthy Maine communities.”

Fowler said, “WMCA is excited to partner with RD to bring additional resources to seniors and help them make home improvements so they can age in place. Rural Development’s 504 Loan and Grant program will help seniors to update their homes to conserve energy and reduce their maintenance costs so they are affordable for years to come. Helping our seniors to continue to live in their own homes is important to WMCA and our communities in Franklin County.”

USDA Rural Development’s Single Family Housing Section 502 Direct Program offers competitive low-interest loans as low as 1 percent, no down payment, and subsidy to eligible residents in rural areas. The program can be used to purchase modest housing, construct a new home or repair pre-owned dwellings located in rural areas of Maine.

USDA Rural Development’s Rehabilitation and Repair Section 504 Loan and Grant Program assists homeowners in making essential upgrades to their homes. Loans are made at 1 percent interest rate to repair, improve or modernize modest single family homes in rural areas, making homes safer or more sanitary, or to remove health and safety hazards.

Applicants’ incomes must be less than 50 percent of the median household income. Grants are available for homeowners age 62 or older who cannot repay a loan. Grant funds are available to remove health or safety hazards or remodel dwellings to make them accessible to household members with disabilities.

For more information on how to apply for USDA Rural Development’s 502 Direct Single Family Housing Program or 504 Repair and Rehabilitation Loan and Grant Program, people may contact Western Maine Community Action Program at 1-800-645-9636 or 645-3764 or contact a USDA Rural Development Area Office in Presque Isle, Bangor, Lewiston, Scarborough or Bangor. More information is available by visiting http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/me.

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