Rural Housing Service

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The Rural Housing Service (RHS) is an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Located within the Department's Rural Development mission area, RHS operates a broad range of programs to provide:

  • homeownership options to individuals;
  • housing rehabilitation and preservation funding;
  • rental assistance to tenants of RHS-funded multi-family housing complexes;
  • farm labor housing;
  • help to developers of multi-family housing projects, like assisted housing for the elderly and disabled, or apartment buildings; and
  • community facilities, such as libraries, child care centers, schools, municipal buildings, and firefighting equipment to Indian groups, nonprofit organizations, communities and local governments.

RHS administers direct loans, loan guarantees and grants. Direct loans are made and serviced by USDA staff; loan guarantees are made to banks or other private lenders, and grants are made directly to a person or organization.

RHS works with other federal agencies, and a number of both nonprofit and private organizations nationally, in order to pool resources to help America's rural residents most effectively.

The RHS National Office is located in Washington, D.C., and is responsible for setting policy, developing regulations, and performing oversight. In the field, RHS operations are carried out through the USDA's state and local Rural Development offices and service centers, several of which are located in each state and Puerto Rico. (Four multistate offices exist in addition to local offices within the states -- Vermont/New Hampshire; Massachusetts/Connecticut/Rhode Island; Maryland/Delaware; and Florida/Virgin Islands.) The Centralized Servicing Center, located in St. Louis, Missouri, provides loan origination and servicing directly to RHS Single-Family Housing borrowers.

RHS programs are available to eligible applicants in rural areas, typically defined as open country or rural towns with no more 20,000 in population. The US Census Changes in 2010 will significantly impact the USDA eligibility maps effective January 15, 2014.

An exception to the rural eligibility requirements is the Farm Labor Housing Program (Section 514/516), which is the only Federal program available for development of housing for farm workers. This program is available in both rural and urban areas.

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