Fair informs people who think they can't afford a house

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Dozens of people involved in the housing industry came together to help people achieve their dream of home ownership. Several groups partnered with the Mississippi Development Authority to put on the first Housing Opportunities Made Easy or 'HOME' fair in Biloxi.

Organizers say their goals were to give out helpful information and dispel misconceptions. Dr. John McKee says a desire to help people led him to a housing fair in Biloxi.

"I'm a physician," said Dr. McKee. "A lot of people who work in our offices have housing requirements and needs, and I wanted to find out what opportunities were available for them, as well."

The 'HOME' fair provided a chance for people looking for affordable housing to talk face to face with dozens of lenders, builders, counselors, realtors and more. Kim LaRosa is president of Gulf Coast Renaissance Corporation.

"It is a time saver," LaRosa said. "Instead of running around from agency to agency trying to figure out what is available for me, you come here."

"You can talk to everybody literally. You can walk around this room. You can find out about all the different programs and who would qualify you for a loan in today's lending market."

Because of increasing loan restrictions, housing experts say people often assume they don't meet the qualifications for buying a house.

"Most people are hesitant because of credit issues," said Reginald J. Esteen, counseling supervisor. "We can work with them on their credit issues to help them to clear up some discrepancies. There is also down payment assistance. They're hesitant because they don't have the down payment."

Dr. John McKee says it was nice to have so many friendly faces ready to answer his questions.

"It's great to have the individuals here," Dr. McKee said. "A lot of times you read an article, but here, you can actually talk with the people."

Housing counselors say not only do they help residents find funding to buy homes, but they also require people to take financial classes. Those classes are designed to help people avoid the pitfalls of foreclosure and adjustable rate mortgages.

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