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USDA home loan program helped widowed senior afford safe, year-round home in Breezy Point

Beverly Lawyer learned firsthand that there is much more to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) than meat inspection and production agriculture.

When her husband was alive, the couple took their RV to a warm locale during the winter and then lived in their three-season cabin in Breezy Point the rest of the year.

When her husband passed away in 2011, Lawyer could not handle RV living alone. However, the Breezy Point cabin was not safe for year-round living and her finances were tight.

Lawyer learned of USDA Rural Development, called and rural development specialist Terry Atkinson visited Lawyer’s home to assess the needed improvements. Lawyer worked with Atkinson in Rural Development’s Baxter office, which approved a 20-year loan at 1 percent interest to winterize and repair the cabin.

Rural Development’s direct home repair loan and grant programs are designed to help eligible, low-income seniors who own inadequate but repairable housing. Applicants must be a rural resident or living in a town with population under 20,000.

Qualified projects can include repairing or replacing a roof, winterizing, purchasing or repairing a heating system, structural repair, water and sewage connect fees and similar uses.

Applicants work with a local Rural Development specialist throughout the application process, which includes an appraisal and review of repayment ability and credit record.

In addition to helping seniors with home repairs that allow them to stay in their own homes, Rural Development also has loan programs to help lower-income rural residents purchase a home.

Colleen Landkamer, USDA Rural Development state director, said, “By helping seniors keep their homes in good repair and increasing the number of homeowners in rural communities, you’re increasing the number of people that shop at local businesses and contribute to the regional economy.”

Rural Development has invested more than $2 billion since 2009 to increase homeownership in rural Minnesota.

To learn more about Rural Development’s home loan programs, call the Baxter area office at 218-829-5965 or visit

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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