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Release No. 0301.05 Contact: USDA Press Office (202) 720-4623 - page 26 / 53

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Now, in the 9006 you have a piece now that’s set aside for grants and a piece for loans.  You are not going to use the loan piece this year because the USDA is saying that you have to have one per hundred percent of the mortgage and they are only guaranteeing 50 percent.  So that money is going to be unused.  I don't know what commercial lender in the United States that will touch these things for the other 20 percent.  So we need to do some language.  We talked to Gil about this, we can sit and work on some language to fix this to keep this money here.

The other thing is, about four weeks ago, part of our group met with the Comptroller of the Currency because under the wind turbines, the lending laws come into a problem. So we are forcing the local rural banks to sell off their loans to the east coast equity market.  Why can’t we keep that money here?  That’s what we want to say.  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  Over here, please.

MR. MARK VAN BINSBURGEN:  (sp) It’s great to have you here today, Mr. Secretary, and I appreciate all your work and also the work of the Bush administration.  So glad to have you here.  My name is Scott Van Binsburgen.  I am a small business owner from Montevideo.  Montevideo is a town of about 6,500 people.  I own two different businesses.  I employ about 140 people.  In one of  the businesses, we manage apartment buildings around the state.  Currently we manage properties in 30 different communities.  One of the problems I’m seeing is there is still a great need for additional housing and new construction.

We’ve used one of your programs a lot in the past.  We manage a lot of 515 projects and there hasn’t been any funding for rehab -- there has been limited money for rehabs on those 515s, as well as additional funding.  Back in the ‘80s there was a lot of 515 construction for seniors.

      Those funds haven’t come through.  I’ve talked to several of the rural development offices around the state and I’ve got a desire to expand housing in these different communities. And the funding isn’t there to use that program and it’s a good program.  So I encourage your support of that.

       The other thing that I guess I wanted to address to you is several owners of apartment buildings that own buildings that are financed through your agency currently rental assistance vouchers are being removed from these buildings.  I think it’s a bad deal.  Owners call me all the time as the management company and they say, “Scott, what’s going on?  We’re losing rental assistance units.”  The bad thing about that is when you lose those rental assistance units it’s hard to fill those vacancies.  It seems unfair to me that owners that have built these, they’ve paid for them and all of a sudden the vouchers are being yanked from the mortgages.  So I encourage you to give that some consideration.

       MODERATOR:  Okay.  Thank you.

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