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A Rural Development Success Story: Dennis Family Finds a Home Without Boundaries

by Cortney Bealer

by Cortney Bealer, Public Affairs Specialist for Rural Development (

The Dennis family, Marc “Bill” and Nicole, broke ground on their new home in Carneys Point earlier this year. Mrs. Dennis is in a wheelchair and their home will be constructed with handicap accessible features throughout. The Dennis family is beyond excited because it has been quite the challenge to find a home that fits their needs. Mrs. Dennis is especially excited about having a custom kitchen where she can bake and cook comfortably.

“Rural Development and Habitat for Humanity have made it possible for us to not only have a house but a home. A place we will create memories for many years,” Nicole said. “Knowing we will be able to live there without limitations is more than words can express. This experience has been different than other services because everyone who has helped has looked at us as people, not just another number for a sale. In past experiences we have been told, ‘I found the perfect place for you; it has a ramp.’ Rural Development and everyone at Habitat for Humanity realize that having a home that we can comfortably live in required much more than a ramp to get in the door.”

The Dennis Family used the Habitat for Humanity program and benefited from a low-interest loan through USDA Rural Development’s (RD) Single-Family Housing Direct Program. Also known as the Section 502 Direct Loan, the program makes homeownership possible for families who never thought it attainable.

“Bill and I have searched for a place to call home for many years now. We are excited to have a place to live without boundaries. The houses we have looked at in the past were great but never seemed right for my physical limitations. This isn’t just a house to us; it’s a home. A place that is designed specifically around my disability,” said Nicole.

RD and Habitat for Humanity of Salem County have a long and successful history of working together to help New Jersey families build their own homes. Since 2018, the partnership has resulted in ten homes for Garden State families, helping them to own their own piece of the American Dream. The partnership is a good model capitalizing on the strengths of both organizations with USDA RD serving as the lender and Habitat for Humanity serving as the builder.

“Overall, our experiences with Rural Development have been wonderful,” Nicole shared. “Without Rural Development and Habitat for Humanity, we may never have had the opportunity to become homeowners. We have had many bumps in the road, but we never gave up the dream of owning our own home. With the help of everyone at Habitat for Humanity, we have been able to navigate through the endless roadblocks we were given and for that we will be forever grateful.”