LINCOLN — Are you interested in buying your first home but don’t have any money saved for a down payment?

Do you want to expand your business? Does your community need help with an improvement project?

U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development can be a go-to agency for a large share of federal assistance in rural America, said Maxine Moul, Nebraska state director.

“Rural Development’s mission is to assist in growing our rural communities, create and maintain jobs and increase economic opportunity,” Moul said.

USDA Rural Development has more than 40 programs available to rural communities for housing, business programs, energy efficiency, community programs, community water and waste, telecommunications and broadband. Of Nebraska’s population of nearly 1.9 million, nearly 900,000 live in rural areas.

Some of the programs that Rural Development offers:

-- Affordable home ownership opportunities with no down payment, including guaranteed home loeans through approved lenders, direct home loans with low interest rates and home repair loans.

-- Grants for elderly homeowners age 62 or older with low incomes who are unable to afford repayment of a repair loan for removal of health and safety hazards.

-- Housing programs available in all Nebraska communities with the exceptions of Fremont, Grand Island, Hastings, Kearney, Lincoln, North Platte, Omaha and South Sioux City/Dakota City.

-- Affordable funding to develop essential community facilities in rural communities with less than 20,000 population. Examples include health care facilities, public facilities, community support services, community support services, public safety services, educational services, utility services and local food systems.

-- Long-term loans for water and waste water projects for communities with populations under 10,000.

-- A business and industry guaranteed loan program to bolster the existing private credit structure by guaranteeing loans for rural businesses, allowing private lenders to extend more credit than they typically could. Eligible uses include but are not limited to: business conversion, enlargement, repair, modernization, or development; purchase and development of land, easements, rights-of-way, buildings or facilities; purchase of equipment, leasehold improvements, machinery, supplies or inventory; and debt refinancing when new jobs will be created and other conditions are met.

Also, the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) assists small businesses and farmers with energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy projects.

For more information about funding opportunities, contact the Rural Development office nearest you. You can locate an office by going online to http://www.rd.usda.gov/contact-us/state-offices/ne. Nebraska offices are located in Lincoln, Norfolk,

Kearney, North Platte and Scottsbluff.

For information on all of Rural Development’s programs, visit http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/all-programs.

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