One local woman opened her refurbished home for visitors recently to help Community Action Commission (CAC) Self-Help Housing celebrate National Homeownership Month.
On Tuesday, various community leaders gathered at the newly-refurbished home of Jodi Noel. Her home, a blue, one-story house with a detached garage on Clemson Plaza in Washington C.H., was recently purchased and repaired as part of Community Action’s Self-Help Housing home refurbishing program.
“I thought the event yesterday went well,” Steve Creed, CAC housing director said. “I’d like to have more of the houses we repair or build open to the public so others can see what we do and those we help. We would like everyone to know that the program provides quality new home construction, not a thrown together house. It’s always good to have the political representatives there in one way or another.”
This new program, and others similar to it, help families or individuals who fall under a certain percentage of income – compared to the median income in their community – find an old house to fix for modern use or build a completely new structure to live in.
“Our services for the program are free to the client, we charge nothing for the credit counseling, loan packaging, etc.,” Creed said. “Costs vary for building and refurbishing. For new home construction, the costs run from around $110,000 to $140,000 depending on the model of the home and the lot cost. We can build homes with two, three or even four bedrooms and all have attached garages.”
Creed said the cost for rehab can vary greatly. Among the factors they consider when purchasing an old home are the purchase price and the amount of repairs needed. Most homes CAC’s self-help housing have repaired are around the upper $60,000-range to purchase and around $20,000 to rehab. But Creed wanted to emphasize that prices are not set in stone and are dependent on how much major work needs completed.
Community Action’s Self-Help Housing has built homes for all different sections of the community. From single parents, families large and small, and young or older individuals, the program has helped build almost 300 new homes in six counties: Fayette, Ross, Greene, Madison, Highland and Clinton, over more than 20 years. Creed said he thinks the oldest person was a lady here in Washington Court House who was 72 when the loan closed.
“This has, in my opinion, strengthened the community by stabilizing many families, especially those with children, and adding to the tax base of the county,” Creed said. “We are seeing payments running from $600 to $750 a month average for new homes (these are es-crowed payments so it includes their taxes and insurance) and $350 to $500 for rehab homes. Many times this is cheaper than the rent they were paying.”
Creed said that contrary to the opinions of several community members, this is not a “free home giveaway.” All of the homeowners have to have income so they have the ability to pay a mortgage. Additionally, other than the income allowance, Creed said that a credit score of 640 or better is needed to be involved in the program. He also said that there is no down payment required and the interest rate is very low. Loans can be for 33 years for low income or 38 years for very low income.
“We can provide credit counseling services free to anyone interested,” Creed said. “We actually have had people work on their credit for a year or two because they got into trouble with unpaid collections. We helped them to understand what to pay and how to clean up their credit and they eventually built new homes they are still living in.”
The Community Action Commission Self-Help Housing program is located at 1400 U.S. Rt 22 NW or can be reached by calling 740-335-1831.
For anyone who wishes to volunteer or help the program, Creed said spreading the word to anyone who would like to own a home instead of renting would assist the program tremendously. He said it would help provide more security for those who want to be homeowners and their families as well as provide them with a major financial asset.
Creed also said they accept volunteers who would like to help in the construction. These volunteers will help some of the clients with their sweat equity (personal contribution to the construction process) due to being single parents, elderly or disabled.