BEMIDJI -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development is offering funding for very-low and low-income individuals and families seeking to purchase or repair a home in a rural area.

The Direct Home Loan program offers financing to qualified very-low and low-income applicants who are unable to qualify for traditional financing. No down payment is required, and the interest rate could be as low as one percent with a subsidy, a release said.

Applicants must meet income and credit guidelines and demonstrate repayment ability. The program is available in rural communities of generally 35,000 people or less.

The maximum loan amount is $20,000 at a one percent interest rate, repayable for a 20-year term and can be used to improve or modernize homes and do essential repairs. Grants of up to $7,500 are available to homeowners 62 and older and must be used to remove health or safety hazards, such as fixing a leaking roof, installing indoor plumbing or replacing a furnace, according to the release.

To see if you qualify, contact a USDA Rural Development Housing Specialist. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/mn.