The federal Rural Development Agency wants to work with local nonprofit groups to help low-income Alaskans buy homes.
Tammye Trevino runs the agency’s rural housing program.
She says it does not have the staff to reach and help all those seeking assistance.
“So by partnering with nonprofits that are already in those areas, it allows more access to our programs for folks who might not otherwise know about them,” she says.
Trevino met with potential partners and other officials in Ketchikan and Sitka last week.
She says local groups would screen and educate applicants. Those found eligible would also get help with loan paperwork.
She says the agency’s housing-assistance programs have strict standards.
“They are limited by the amount of repayment ability. So we are assured that no one is buying a home that’s above their means,” she says.
Trevino says the nonprofits would charge a fee to cover costs, which would become part of their mortgage. The state has a similar housing program.
Alaska Rural Development Director Jim Nordlund says Trevino also transferred funds that had been awarded to a now-closed Sitka college.
“We had a $500,000 grant to Sheldon Jackson for the Rasmuson Student Center, which we are going to transfer over to the Sitka Fine Arts Camp. The original grant was for an educational purpose and that’s exactly what Sitka Fine Arts does as well,” he says.
Sheldon Jackson trustees turned most of the campus over to the camp several years ago.