How HAC’s Loan Application Packaging Training Supports Homeownership

Every year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Section 502 Direct Loan Program provides about $1billion in low-cost mortgages to help low-income rural Americans afford homes. Normally, families must apply to the USDA for a 502 Direct Loan. Unfortunately, the mortgage loan application process can take months, with no guarantee that the loan will be granted.

Since 2009, the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) has been one of several organizations to offer a 3-day course to train staff from local housing organizations to package these loans in partnership with USDA Intermediary organizations. Organizations with a certified packager can run the process themselves. They assist loan applicants to complete the loan application paperwork, gather documentation, conduct eligibility checks, and submit the packaged application to the intermediary for expedited review. This packaging speeds the process, allowing more low-income rural Americans to achieve the dream of homeownership.

Participant making a point during a HAC Section 502 Direct Application Packaging Training

HAC Section 502 Direct Application Packaging Training participants working together on a sample application (2014)

Through HAC’s Section 502 Direct Loan Application Packaging Certification training, participants learn the ins and outs of packaging USDA loans—eligibility requirements, the underwriting process, and the nitty-gritty details of the program. By the end of the course, participants are prepared to take a certification exam that in part qualifies them to package USDA Section 502 loans.

Families who work with certified packagers don’t just work with someone they trust. They have access to all the support that organization offers. From homebuyer education and counseling to supplemental funding such as down-payment assistance grants, these services make homeownership attainable for low-income families. “It makes all the difference when families can work with an organization that they know and trust,” explained Shonterria Charleston, HAC’s Director of Training and Technical Assistance.

HAC’s 502 Loan Application Packaging Certification training course builds the capacity of affordable housing organizations. Once certified, these groups have a new service they can offer to their communities. Over the years, we’ve trained thousands of groups to package these loan applications. As Shonterria Charleston added, “I am deeply encouraged by the impetus around community building and enriching the lives of disadvantaged segments of the population, and I love watching our trainees deepen their knowledge with the explicit goal of further impacting and enriching the quality of lives of the residents in the communities they serve. It’s powerful to see the difference they make for their neighbors thanks to our training.”

HAC is currently partnering with USDA, NeighborWorks America and Rural Community Assistance Corporation to evolve the course into a virtual format.

Everyone deserves a safe, decent, and affordable place to call home. Homeownership creates stability and provides an opportunity to create generational wealth. USDA’s Section 502 Direct Loan Program makes the vision of homeownership a reality across rural America. HAC’s loan packaging training helps expand its reach, making homeownership more accessible for low-income families.