Norwest Mortgage Inc. last week joined a federal program that packages subsidized home loans for rural families.

Known as the Direct Loan Leveraging Program, it lets rural residents who earn less than 80% of the median income in their area get up to 100% of the financing to complete a home purchase-including the down payment.

It does so by combining a conventional first mortgage at market rates with a subsidized low-interest second mortgage, underwritten by USDA Rural Development, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program has the support of Fannie Mae, which has invested $10 million in the last three years.

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