In this issue, we speak with Julia Hnilicka, State Director for USDA Rural Development – Alaska. Hnilicka was born and raised in the rural Alaskan village of Nenana, where she has spent most of her life. Her upbringing as the child of a tugboat captain and an educator has provided her with a firsthand understanding of the complex issues confronting rural households.
To the surprise and dismay of rural housing advocates and practitioners across the country, the Senate proposed an increase in 502 interest rates for very low-income borrowers who utilize this premier rural mortgage product, including Mutual Self Help families. I was in DC and met with USDA in late September and this was a primary topic. I want to share with you some of the facts on the 502 program, shared with the National Rural Housing Coalition by Bob Rapoza, and some data supporting the call for the 502 base interest rate remains at 1%.