EDITORIAL: Goal: home ownership

By NEMS Daily Journal

Home ownership remains a basic hope within the American dream, but the prolonged recession plays havoc with the housing market and with the ability of many people to become eligible for financing and grants to make ownership possible.
Tupelo’s new Home Buyers Club brings the city’s Neighborhood Development Office into the issue on the side of would-be home buyers – people who aren’t now but want to become eligible for loans and grants.
Membership is not a casual commitment because the goal is to change bad situations into good ones involving credit counseling, financial literacy and homebuyers’ instruction.
The goal, of course, is home ownership, which is mutually beneficial. If people can become eligible for home ownership they will be empowered to make a major investment in their own behalf that should increase over a lifetime, and the city gains financially stable, taxpaying residents whose personal prosperity is linked to Tupelo’s progress.
Neighborhood Development Coordinator Peggy Woods said Monday she expects the first meeting of the club’s classes, which she will facilitate, to begin by the end of October. The duration of participation varies with the situations of the clients. The short side is three months, but some clients could require nine months or even a year to gain control of their situations. Wood cautioned that some clients are encouraged not to seek home ownership for a longer period after the club’s classes are completed.
Woods, whose job is in the city’s Neighborhood Development Corporation, said becoming eligible for one of the grants available from several funding sources helps prospective borrowers develop a financial package, including loans, with affordable monthly payments, which lowers the risk of default and foreclosure. Many of the grants are made through the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas, which works with local member banks.
The income ceiling for grants is $42,500 for a family of four in Lee County, but the limit varies with a locale’s median income. Woods said some clients who develop good credit and get grants can qualify for loans with incomes as low as $20,000.
Grants range from $7,000 to $35,000.
Participation does not provide protection against creditors, but it teaches participants how to negotiate and keep payoff commitments and build credit strength.
The Home Buyers Club in Tupelo is new, but similar ventures have been operating in some other communities, with generally good results.
Woods said 25 people inquired about the club on Monday, the day the Daily Journal published a front page article about the program.
Call (662) 841-6510 for information.