Non-profits say promoting home ownership needs collaboration

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - People hoping to buy a house through the My Home, My Coast program need to sign up soon. Officials say on August 31st, the waiting list will be cut off. The program which offers up to $25,000 toward down payment and closing costs has 1,000 people on its waiting list. Two other non-profits say they are also shouldering some of the load of getting people into their own homes.

Patricia Hall of Pass Christian spent Saturday babysitting her grandchildren Teaja and Xavier. Hall says the children's mother would like to move the family into a home of its own.

"It's been very hard for her to try to find a house to buy that she can afford," said Hall. "Getting the assistance has been very hard because she is a single parent."

Hall went to get information on Bethel Estates, an affordable housing development Back Bay Mission is building in Pass Christian. Back Bay officials say they are encouraging applicants to connect with financial counselors.

"It's important because a counseling agency can help them repair their credit score and can help them prepare to talk to the bank about mortgage financing," Executive Director Shari Prestemon said. "It can just be their companion on this journey because the first time, especially, you own a home can be kind of a scary process."

At the Mississippi Home of Your Own seminar in Long Beach, Tina Massey tried to educate prospective homeowners on how to improve their chances of buying a house.

"Mostly, I try to encourage people to pay their bills on time," said Massey, a counselor. "I encourage them to look at their credit report at least twice a year, so they can see what is on their credit report. Just so they can help them into the home ownership process because even before they go to a housing counseling agency or before they go to a lender, they will also know themselves."

Organizations say helping people into home ownership needs to be a collaborative process.

"Many people still need stable, permanent housing," said Prestemon. "It's going to take every program and every agency and every developer to make that happen for people today. So we're thrilled that there are programs that can work together, and that people have options about where they can go."

People interested in applying for the Bethel Estates housing development should call 432-0301, extension 311.

©2009 WLOX. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.