Murkowski Succeeds in Continuing Federal Loan Policy for Homes with Cisterns

Senator Noted “Immediate and Harmful” Change in USDA Loan Program - Impacting Alaskans

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Lisa Murkowski was glad to receive word today from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program that they will take Murkowski’s suggestion to provide a waiver to Alaska for homes with water catchment systems. Up until last year, the USDA had offered waivers just as the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), but changed its policy while HUD continued – curbing the lending market in Alaska for low to moderate income borrowers purchasing homes that have these systems in place.

 This development was great news to Rocky Elerding, Mortgage Manager at First Bank of Alaska, who said that Senator Murkowski’s work provided “a big step in helping to provide affordable home financing for Alaskan’s in rural communities.”

 "We applaud Sen. Murkowski's continuing efforts to ensure that Alaska residents have an opportunity to secure financing for homes with alternative water supply systems," agreed Dan Fauske, CEO/Executive Director of Alaska Housing Finance Corporation.

 A letter (attached) received by Senator Murkowski’s office today showed the federal agency is reversing course, however, reading “this communication affirms that USDA Rural Development will honor the same provisions of the HUD waiver for Single Family Housing loans or guarantees under the same criteria defined in HUD’s March 29, 2012 waiver.  Should HUD extend the waiver beyond its expiration date of March 27, 2013, Single Family Housing programs will continue to accept properties under any waiver extensions.”

 This letter was based on Senator Murkowski’s inquiry (attached) from last year, where she pushed the USDA for action, writing “Never before has Alaska had to seek a waiver or exemption from the USDA for rural development loans on properties with these types of water systems, but the Alaska USDA Service Center has decided the rural development loan program will no longer provide financing to homes that utilize water catchment and cistern systems. This is an urgent matter that is having an immediate and harmful impact on the housing market in Alaska and in particular in Ketchikan.”

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