Hopes high at home fair


Local News

January 20, 2020 - 10:24 AM

LAHARPE ? LaHarpe resident Cierra Wynn is tired of renting. It?s difficult to find affordable homes in good shape.

So when she learned of Saturday?s LaHarpe Home Fair, Wynn saw an opportunity to find out what it might take to start the process of building or buying a home through a special USDA housing loan.?This sounds like a wonderful thing for people,? Wynn said.

The Home Fair brought together representatives from USDA, local banks, construction companies, city officials, Thrive Allen County and more to discuss options for building a home in LaHarpe. 

LaHarpe Pride organized the event. Pride member Richard Luken recapped some of the recent improvements to LaHarpe, including its park and annual citywide cleanup events, as well as the benefits of small-town living just a few minutes from Iola. 

Luken also talked about the incentives the City of LaHarpe offers to encourage home building, including bringing utilities to the property at no charge and a program that offers rebates for property taxes.

He also outlined two loan programs offered by the USDA, the Direct Rural Home Loan and the Guaranteed Rural Housing Program. Each allows borrowers to finance new, energy-efficient homes with minimal interest rates ? currently around 3% ? and with no down payment. Borrowers cannot exceed income limits, such as $49,200 for a family of four to qualify for the Direct loan, or $82,700 for a family of four through the Guaranteed Rural Housing Program.

Luken estimated a borrower who builds a $100,000-plus home through the Direct loan program could end up with a mortgage payment of less than $600 a month.


Alanna Knavel, who grew up in LaHarpe and hopes to either buy or build a home there, talks to USDA representative Kelli Kramer about rural housing loan programs.


LAHARPE Pride has an ambitious goal to build 20 new houses in LaHarpe in 2020, Pride member and local business owner Harry Lee said. He cited reports that workers commute 40 to 50 miles for jobs at some of Iola?s industries, like Gates and Russell Stover Candies. LaHarpe is just a few minutes away, so those workers could spend more time with their families if they chose to move to the city.

He and his wife, Joyce, have lived in LaHarpe off and on since 1958. 

?It?s a good place to raise a family,? he said. 

LaHarpe resident Alanna Knavel attended the fair and met with USDA representative Kelli Kramer to talk about available programs and pick up an application. Kramer explained that, if for some reason an applicant doesn?t immediately qualify, she will work with that person to try to fix the problem and get them approved.

Knavel grew up in LaHarpe and is currently living with a friend in hopes of finding a home of her own. She was curious to see if she might qualify for one of the housing loans.

?I?m trying to find a house for me and my son, and grow my family,? she said. ?This was a chance to get more information and see if I would be able to build something.?


Richard Luken talks about loan programs to encourage the building of new homes in LaHarpe.