The Community Action Commission of Fayette County Self-Help Housing will be celebrating National Homeownership Month by highlighting a local success story.
On June 24, an open house will be held at the home of the Forsha family at 877 Linden Ave., Lot #241 in Washington Court House at 1:30 p.m. This event has been held for several years and the last two were celebrated in Ross County – one of six counties Self-Help Housing covers – at the finished homes of families in the program. Self-Help Housing has also built homes in Fayette, Greene, Highland, Clinton and Madison counties.
“We usually have an event to promote home ownership, the self-help program and we celebrate getting families into their own home,” Self-Help Housing Director Steve Creed said. “With the self-help program the participants have to be at 80 percent or less of the area median income. This is one of the many things we do. We work based on the person’s income. This allows us to see what their payment could be and we offer what we can to help them afford to be a homeowner.”
These efforts have blossomed into different programs that help residents find homes. With programs such as permanent supportive housing, rapid re-housing and homeless crisis response, the employees offer various options to make sure residents are housed safely.
Recently, the USDA also approved a new program which allows Self-Help Housing to take existing “fixer-upper” houses someone would like to purchase and help them buy and repair the home. Whether it needs a bit of electric and plumbing or a several-thousand-dollar renovation, this option could be cheaper for some families instead of building a brand new home. The new program serves two purposes: to help people find the house they are most comfortable in and to fix up various parts of the community where empty, unsightly houses have plagued neighborhoods.
“We live here, this is our community, and we would like to see everyone taken care of and enjoying their own home,” Creed said. “It brings stability to their family and also gives them a sense of pride when they accomplish certain building tasks or when they finally pay off their loan. We also offer other assistance that we go over with them, including a home buyer’s education class before they even start.”
“We are trying to give them a good quality place to raise their families safely,” Kathy Brown, Self-Help Housing group coordinator, said. “The owners have to put in 65 percent of the sweat equity (a party’s contribution to a project in the form of effort and toil, as opposed to financial equity such as paying others to perform the task). The residents are working hard on their homes and are working hard every day to pay for them. It really means a lot when, once they get done, they can look and say, ‘I put those walls up,’ or ‘I roofed this house.’ It also helps them to learn these skills so if something, such as a piece of siding, needs repairs the owners are able to fix it themselves.”
In addition to the programs offered to new homeowners, Self-Help Housing assists new owners in handling their budgeting, understanding banking and how to balance a check book, strengthening their overall financial literacy and they even offer safety instruction for the job site so owners know how to accomplish tasks without doing harm to themselves or others. Self Help housing meets with owners each week and they cover multiple topics, including energy efficient lights, simple maintenance in the winter time, and even provide lists the owners need to keep their homes running as efficiently as possible.
“We are typically able to provide new homeowners a mortgage payment that is roughly equal to what they would already pay in rent,” Creed said. “The big thing to me is the 100 percent financing, because that’s the biggest struggle, especially for young people, as they try and buy a home. When a potential owner qualifies through the USDA, we will then begin to help by finding a home model, building lot and everything that fits within the budget. Sometimes though, if they only qualify for a $100,000, but it is going to cost $103,000 to build this home, we can give them that $3,000 in what we call down payment assistance.”
The employees at Self-Help Housing extended an invitation to all of the local dignitaries and community leaders, as well as state and national politicians to join them for the open house on June 24. They want the community to know that these owners work very hard for what they have and nothing Self-Help Housing does is a give-a-way. Together, the owners and Self-Help Housing, have been successful in building 300 homes over the years.
More information is available from Self-Help Housing. They can be reached at (740) 335-1831 or by emailing [email protected] or [email protected] Their office is located at 1400 U.S. Route 22 northwest in Washington C.H.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy