Payment says owning a home has changed everything for her family

    USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer visited the Albert Street home of Crookston resident Lucy Payment Wednesday to recognize Payment’s recent achievement of homeownership.   

    Landkamer, joined by other USDA Rural Development staff members in Minnesota and JoAnn Zutz from U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson's office, presented Payment with the Homeowner of the Year Award for the USDA Rural Development region in Minnesota that represents Crookston. Landkammer said there are five regions in Minnesota, and it's the first time a Crookston homeowner has received the award.   

    It wasn’t too long ago that Lucy Payment and her teenage daughter went in search of a permanent home.   

    Payment and her daughter struggled with the poor living conditions of their former rental home in Crookston, dealing mostly with, Payment said in her front yard Wednesday, black mold.    

    "It was just a constant struggle," Payment said.    

    Looking for a way out, Payment went in search of permanent housing. During her search, she found information on USDA Rural Development’s Direct Home Loan program.  

    Rural Development’s direct home loan program offers financing to qualified very-low and low-income applicants that are unable to qualify for traditional financing.   

    Payment decided to apply for the program and worked closely with Rural Development’s local office in Thief River Falls. Applicants work one-on-one with a local Rural Development specialist throughout the application process.   

    “Jane and June from the Thief River Falls office were incredibly helpful throughout the entire process,” said Payment. “Whenever I had questions, they were so willing to help me better understand things.”   

    With the help of her realtor and USDA Rural Development Single Family Housing Specialist Jane Schaumburg, and technician, June Sundberg, Payment was able to find a home that fit her family’s needs on Crookston's north end.   

    Payment has worked for the University of Minnesota Crookston for six and a half years and was able to find a home on the same side of town as her employer as well as her daughter’s school.   

    One of the best things about their new home, Payment says, is that the monthly mortgage payment is significantly less than what she was paying for her rental home.   

    "I feel so much better when I make that payment each month because it just means so much more than just paying rent," Payment said. "I can't tell you how much getting this home has meant to my daughter and me. It's changed everything."    

    “Rural housing results in rural jobs,” said Landkamer. “By increasing the number of homeowners in rural communities, you’re increasing the number of people that shop at local businesses and contribute to the regional economy.”   

    Rural Development has invested over $2.2 billion since 2009 to increase homeownership in rural Minnesota. In addition to the direct program, Rural Development offers a home loan guarantee program. The guarantee program is targeted at median-income individuals and families and “guarantees” loans made through traditional lenders such as banks or mortgage brokers.   

    To learn more about Rural Development’s home loan programs, call the area office in Thief River Falls at (218) 681-2843, ext. 4, or visit