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Local program seeks to help would-be homeowners with downpayment

Jessica Fuller • Aug 29, 2017 at 11:12 PM

Fifty families across the region have become homeowners this year thanks to a special grant program designed to help them make downpayments on a home. 

Appalachian Community Federal Credit Union’s “Project Reinvest” launched in May this year, and the $2.1 million downpayment assistant program has helped families like the Wootens take the steps toward buying a home. The program aims to help 200 families with a $10,500 downpayment, and so far 50 families have benefitted from the program. 

Amanda Wooten, her husband Dustin, and their two children were living in a dilapidated trailer before buying a three-bedroom home in Valley Forge with help from Project Reinvest. 

“We want them to be able to grow up in a home that we own so they know they can have that same thing if they work hard and handle their money right,” Amanda said.

“The program has been an answer to prayer,” she said.

Credit union CEO Ron Scott said Eastern Eight Community Development Corp. helped him and his team learn about the program. Nineteen entities throughout the nation have been awarded the grant, including ACFCU and Eastern Eight.

A problem that many families run into when they’re in the market for a home, Scott said, is that they can afford to pay utilities and mortgage payments on a home, but can’t afford a downpayment. This problem kept about 1,400 applicants from becoming homeowners last year, Scott said, and those are the kinds of people that the program aims to help. Unless the family sells or refinances the home, they don’t need to pay the $10,500 loan back.

“We could get people to the point where they could almost buy a home, but they didn’t have the cash, so this was something to help them get to the next step,” he said.

To qualify for the funding, applicants have to earn at or below the median level income for their area, and homeownership counseling is required for those participating. A family of four in Washington County, for example, would need to earn less than $51,813 per year to qualify. 

The program has the funding to help 150 more families through the current grant. Although funding is limited, Street and Eastern Eight Financing Manager Mark Fleury said it’s not impossible to get funding beyond the current grant to continue the project forward.

Fleury said finding families to take advantage of the project will help show state representatives that downpayment assistance is a need in the area, and may one day pave the way for more funding for projects like these.

“The quicker the funds are used, that reinforces the fact they can see there’s a need,” Fleury said. “The sooner we can use them, the better.”

Those seeking more information on the program should call 230-2648 to speak with Curtis Montgomery or email him at [email protected]

 

 

Email Jessica Fuller at [email protected] Follow Jessica on Twitter @fullerjf91. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jfullerJCP.

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