Currently showing posts tagged Obama

  • USDA lowers cost to refinance rural housing loans in Maine and Nationwide

     USDA Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez on May 16,2016 announced a series of changes that will make it faster and cheaper for homeowners to refinance USDA Rural Development mortgages.  

     “I am pleased that Maine families and individuals have this opportunity to refinance through USDA Rural Development, ultimately helping them to have more money in their pockets and more to save for the future,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel. 

    Waterville, photo, is a rural Maine town. People living in this area will benfit from the loan changes.

    To date in Maine this Fiscal Year, USDA Rural Development has assisted 886 Maine families or individuals to become homeowners through its Single-Family Housing Guaranteed and Direct Loans, for a total investment of $128.2 million.

    USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel said, “I am pleased that Maine families and individuals have this opportunity to refinance through USDA Rural Development, ultimately helping them to have more money in their pockets and more to save for the future.”

    “These changes reaffirm the Obama Administration’s commitment to middle-class Americans, and I am pleased that we continue to provide affordable housing to support thriving economies in rural communities,” Hernandez said. “Helping homeowners refinance their homes to reduce their monthly payments and take advantage of low interest rates will bring increased capital to rural residents and the communities where they live and work.”

    USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel said, “I am pleased that Maine families and individuals have this opportunity to refinance through USDA Rural Development, ultimately helping them to have more money in their pockets and more to save for the future.”

    The changes take effect June 2, 2016 and apply to mortgages issued through USDA and those where USDA has issued a loan note guarantee.

       Homeowners current on their mortgages for the past 12 months will no longer be required to secure an appraisal, provide a credit report or undergo a debt-to-income calculation when they refinance for a 30-year term. These changes will save time and money.

    USDA began testing these changes in a 2012 a pilot program that was later expanded to include 34 states and Puerto Rico. To date, nearly 9,500 homeowners have refinanced their mortgages. Some borrowers saved as much as $600 a month. The average savings is around $150 per month.   

    The streamlined rules are consistent with banking industry lending standards. These refinanced loans, like all USDA Rural Development housing loans, meet rigorous underwriting standards and are made only to qualified borrowers. The Department of Housing and Urban Development and Department of Veterans Affairs have similar programs for the Americans they serve.

    Interested homeowners with USDA loan guarantees should contact their lender about refinance procedures. Homeowners with USDA Direct loans should contact a USDA housing specialist.

    For additional details on these new changes, please see page 26461 of the May 3 Federal Register. To learn more about USDA housing programs, please contact a housing specialist at your nearest USDA Rural Development office. A list of State offices is available at:

    Since 2009, USDA Rural Development nationwide (#USDARD) has helped 1.1 million rural residents buy homes; invested $11 billion to start or expand 103,000 rural businesses; funded nearly 7,000 community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care facilities; financed 185,000 miles of electric transmission and distribution lines; and helped bring high-speed Internet access to nearly 6 million rural residents and businesses. For more information, visit

         USDA Rural Development has Area Offices located in Presque Isle, Bangor, Lewiston, and Scarborough, as well as a State Office, located in Bangor.

  • Obama to make rule change to give overtime pay to 5million workers

     On June 30th President Barack Obama proposed a plan to extend overtime pay to 5 million American workers who earn to much to qualify, eventhough they have done the work.

    The president is updating overtime rules so that salaried workers who earn less than roughly $50,400 per year would be guaranteed time-and-a-half pay when they work more than 40 hours in a week. Under the current rules implemented by former President George W. Bush, salaried workers must earn less than $23,660 per year in order to be automatically eligible for overtime pay.

    It will be an Executive Order, so Congress doesn't need to weigh in. The proposal must undergo a public-comment period before it can be finalized and go into effect. The changes are expected to go into effect in 2016.

    According to the Economic Policy Institute, only 11 percent of salaried workers in the U.S. are covered by overtime law under the current rules. That share would be closer to half of salaried workers under the new proposal, by EPI's estimates.


    A Hard Day's Work Deserves a Fair Day's Pay


    It's been a good few days for America.

    On Thursday, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the Affordable Care Act. It is here to stay.

    And, Democrats and Republicans in Congress paved the way for the United States to rewrite the rules of global trade to benefit American workers and American businesses.

    On Friday, the Court recognized the Constitutional guarantee of marriage equality. With that ruling, our union became a little more perfect -- a place where more people are treated equally, no matter who they are or who they love.

    These steps build upon America's steady progress in recent years. Out of the depths of recession, we've emerged ready to write our own future. Our businesses have created 12.6 million new jobs over the past 63 months -- the longest streak on record. More than 16 million Americans have gained health insurance. More kids are graduating from high school and college than ever before.

    But more work lies ahead, if we are to succeed in making sure this recovery reaches all hardworking Americans and their families.

    We've got to keep expanding access to affordable health care. Right now, 22 states haven't expanded Medicaid -- even though, under the ACA, they can. We'll keep encouraging those governors to do the right thing for their constituents. And we're making sure people know all the ways that they can benefit from the ACA. Wednesday, I'll go to Tennessee to meet Americans whose lives have been changed by this law, and to talk about how, instead of refighting settled battles of the past, we can move forward together.

    We've got to keep making sure hard work is rewarded. Right now, too many Americans are working long days for less pay than they deserve. That's partly because we've failed to update overtime regulations for years -- and an exemption meant for highly paid, white collar employees now leaves out workers making as little as $23,660 a year -- no matter how many hours they work.

    This week, I'll head to Wisconsin to discuss my plan to extend overtime protections to nearly 5 million workers in 2016, covering all salaried workers making up to about $50,400 next year. That's good for workers who want fair pay, and it's good for business owners who are already paying their employees what they deserve -- since those who are doing right by their employees are undercut by competitors who aren't.

    That's how America should do business. In this country, a hard day's work deserves a fair day's pay. That's at the heart of what it means to be middle class in America.

    As president, my top priority is to strengthen the middle class, expand opportunity and grow the economy. That's why I believe in middle-class economics -- the idea that our country does best when everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. It's driven me from day one. It's fueled our American comeback. And it's at the heart of the fundamental choice our country faces today.

    Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do exceptionally well? Or will we push for an economy where every American who works hard can contribute to and benefit from our success?

    Will we invest in programs that would help educate our children, maintain our roads and bridges, and train our workers for the high-paying jobs of the future? Or will we cut these programs, and decide to give more to the wealthiest Americans instead?

    To me, the answer is clear. Let's invest in America's future. Let's commit to an economy that rewards hard work, generates rising incomes, and allows everyone to share in the prosperity of a growing America. Let's reverse harmful cuts to vital programs, and instead make the critical investments we need to grow our economy and strengthen the middle class.

    That's what I'll be talking about this week -- this choice, and these priorities.

    America is at its best when we look out for one another. We soar when we strive to do better for one another. That's what I'm focused on and that's what I'll fight for every day for the next 18 months.

    Let's get to work.

  • New Obama initiative to increase solar access for all Americans


    by Ramona du Houx

    The Obama Administration on July 7,2015 announced a new initiative to increase access to solar energy for all Americans, in particular low- and moderate- income communities, while expanding opportunities to join the solar workforce. 

    Last year, the United States brought online as much solar energy every three weeks as it did in all of 2008, and the solar industry added jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy.  And since the beginning of 2010, the average cost of a solar electric system has dropped by 50 percent.  The executive actions and private sector commitments that we are announcing today will help continue to scale up solar for all Americans, including those who are renters, lack the startup capital to invest in solar, or do not have adequate information on how to transition to solar energy. 

    The key components of the initiative that the Administration announced today are:

    • Launching a National Community Solar Partnership to unlock access to solar for the nearly 50 percent of households and business that are renters or do not have adequate roof space to install solar systems, including issuing a guide to Support States In Developing Community Solar Programs;
    • Setting a goal to install 300 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy in federally subsidized housing and providing technical assistance to make it easier to install solar, including clarifying how to use Federal funding;
    • Housing authorities, rural electric co-ops, power companies, and organizations in more than 20 states across the country are committing to put in place more than 260 solar energy projects, including projects to help low- and moderate- income communities save on their energy bills and further community solar; and
    • More than $520 million in independent commitments from philanthropic and impact investors, states, and cities to advance community solar and scale up solar and energy efficiency for low- and moderate- income households.

    To continue enhancing employment opportunities for all Americans in the solar industry, the Administration announced the following executive actions and private sector commitments, including:

    • AmeriCorps funding to deploy solar and create jobs in underserved communities;
    • Expanding solar energy education and opportunities for job training; and
    • The solar industry is also setting its own, independent goal of becoming the most diverse sector of the U.S.  energy industry, and a number of companies are announcing that they are taking steps to build a more inclusive solar workforce. 

    These new actions build on President Obama’s goal to train 75,000 workers to enter the solar industry by 2020 and the Solar Ready Vets program that will train transitioning military personnel for careers in the solar industry at 10 military bases. 




    • Setting A Goal To Install 300 Megawatts Of Renewable Energy in Federally Subsidized Housing: In the Climate Action Plan, the President set a goal of installing 100 megawatts (MW) of solar and other types of renewable energy in Federally subsidized housing.   The Administration has already surpassed that goal, through commitments to install more than 185 MW of renewable energy.    Today, we are announcing that the Administration is tripling its current goal and setting a new goal to install 300 MW of renewable energy on affordable by 2020, as well as expanding the goal to include community and shared solar installations.


    • Providing Technical Assistance to Make It Easier to Install Solar on Affordable Housing: One of the largest barriers to deploying onsite solar on affordable housing is the lack of knowledge on how to initiate the process.  To overcome this barrier, the U.S.  Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is announcing that it will offer direct technical assistance to affordable housing organizations making a commitment toward the Administration’s new 300 MW goal.  As part of this assistance, HUD is launching a website to provide policy guidance, tools, and other online resources to help advance solar deployment and the installation of other renewable energy in affordable housing. 


    • Developing a Toolkit to Increase the Ability of States to Use Federal Funding to Deploy Solar on Affordable Housing: To make it easier to use Section 108 Community Development Block Grant funds for solar energy systems, next month, HUD is releasing a renewable energy toolkit for use by Community Planning and Development (CPD) grantees.  The toolkit will provide program compliance information, tools, and case study examples to help communities integrate renewable energy components such as solar photovoltaic, solar hot water, and cogeneration into the program in an efficient, cost-effective, and impactful way by using CPD funds.  This action builds on an announcement last year during which, HUD’s CPD office affirmed that under current guidelines, Section 108 Community Development Block Grant funding can be used for clean energy and energy efficiency projects. 


    • Enhancing the Federal Housing Administration (FHA)’s PowerSaver Policy to Make It Easier to Borrow Up To $25,000 For Solar and Energy-Efficient Improvements FHA is planning updates to its second-mortgage program that will make it easier for homeowners to borrow up to $25,000 for solar and energy-efficient improvements by cutting red tape and making improvements more affordable.  Key features of the second mortgage program will include: 1) providing flexible underwriting to recognize the reduced cost of utilities for energy efficient homes; 2) allowing homeowners to control the disbursement of loan funds to the contractor; and 3) permitting contributions to lower out-of-pocket expenses and/or reduce borrower interest rates.  


    • Clarifying Policy to Pave the Way for Increased FHA Solar and Energy Efficient Financing on Federally Assisted and Insured Housing.  FHA recently clarified its policy on first mortgages to allow flexible financing options and the ability to obtain larger loan amounts for solar systems.   FHA is conducting forums on the updated Single Family Handbook to help increase lender awareness of these financing options, which will be effective September 14, 2015.


    • Launching a National Community Solar Partnership: The U.S.  Department of Energy (DOE) in collaboration with HUD, the U.S.  Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S.  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), representatives from solar companies, NGOs, and state and community leaders are launching a National Community Solar Partnership to unlock access to solar for the nearly 50 percent of households and business that are renters or do not have adequate roof space to install solar systems.  The partnership will leverage the interest in the public and private sector to expand access to community solar, in particular, for low- and moderate- income communities, while utilizing the technical expertise of DOE and the National Laboratories. 


    • Issuing A Guide To Support States In Developing Community Solar Programs: The DOE SunShot Initiative and the National Renewable Energy Lab are releasing a new guide, which answers key program design questions collected from states that have implemented shared solar policies and programs around the country.  The guide will also explain how shared solar polices work in conjunction with other polices and provides links to relevant shared solar publications. 


    • Launching a Solar Working Group To Save Households on Their Energy Bills: The DOE SunShot Initiative, with assistance from Sandia National Laboratories and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, is forming a new working group to disseminate information to new homebuilders that want to offer customer-owned solar PV.