Lexington Herald Leader
By: Merlene Davis
June 8, 2010
There are a couple of opportunities coming up for those who are straddling the fence about buying a home.
They are geared to those whose desire for the American Dream might be overcome by doubt and by lousy past financial decisions.
The first event is Thursday, when REACH Inc. will host its third annual Home Ownership Conference, called "Higher Heights in Affordable Home Ownership."
OK, the title isn't that catchy, but the information that will be made available should lure fence-straddlers to join the rest of us in the land of responsibility and better financial security.
REACH helps low- and moderate-income families and individuals in Fayette, Bourbon, Clark, Garrard, Harrison, Jessamine, Madison, Mercer, Anderson, Franklin, Montgomery, Scott and Woodford counties to become first-time home buyers.
My daughter chose that agency when she decided last fall that she was too old at 34 to be paying rent. She wanted to own her own home, but she had some past issues that she needed to clean up for that to happen.
Now, she is in the process of finding that perfect house, and she's dragging me and the real estate agent along with her.
On Thursday, some of the budget and credit counselors she met with last fall will talk about cleaning up credit problems and about the help that's available for first-time homeowners.
"Our program requires you to work with home-ownership counselors," said Alyssa McKee, a grant writer for REACH. "The amount of time it takes depends on how much effort the client is willing to put in to it. Sometimes it takes two or three months, and sometimes it takes two or three years. They will work with them as long as it takes.
"They have to take care of the credit issues first," she said. "With us, that is not an option."
Once that is done, the client works with the home-ownership division and learns about mortgages, loan officers, real estate agents and just how much of a house they can afford or want to afford.
At the end of the counseling, clients are well informed and ready to house-hunt.
Besides helping potential clients, Thursday's conference will help real estate agents and social agencies better understand REACH. There will be two panel discussions featuring representatives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, HOPE IV, the USDA Rural Development Loan Program and the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, and a mini-workshop on the process itself.
For me, that would be enough to take the $25 admission fee to the Fayette County Extension Office, 1141 Red Mile Place at 8 a.m. Thursday. For others, however, there has to be a big-name draw. With football practice only weeks away, University of Kentucky head football coach Joker Phillips is that magnet. He will be the luncheon speaker. The conference ends at 1 p.m. For more information, call (859) 455-8057.
The second opportunity to access information about homeownership will be June 26, when The Road to Home Ownership hosts its second Family Financial Literacy Community Cookout, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 26 at Imani Baptist Church, 1555 Georgetown Road.
The event is free, with food, entertainment and resource booths available.
Executive director Yolanda Bradford said the agency will select 20 families to receive financial literacy assistance to improve their credit scores, create budgets and manage their money better. The families will be challenged to be ready for home ownership in 12 months, with incentives given at various points along the way.
Call Bradford at (502) 558-0762 to register to be considered for one of the 20 spots.
Bradford said there is no competition among her agency, REACH or Community Ventures Corporation, three agencies that offer similar access to ownership.
"We are fighting together to improve the financial future of our community," Bradford said. "That's our main goal. Even with all three of us out there, we still only reach half the market" of potential homeowners, she said.
If you don't need these opportunities, spread the word to someone who does.