More Than 200 Signed Up For Home Ownership Assistance

By Toni Miles - bio | email

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - "There's a lot of inventory on the market. By that, I mean houses just aren't selling. We certainly need to do something to help the selling process, and I think the REACH program is just that," said Carlene Alfonso, CEO of Coldwell Banker Alfonso Real Estate.

Hundreds of homes may soon be off the market, thanks to the REACH program. Two-hundred-fifteen people are already signed up, taking home ownership counseling classes and getting ready to move into new homes. Through the program, an employer puts a minimum down payment on an employee's home, and REACH matches that money 3 to 1 up to $40,000.

Leaders of the program say this is a great incentive for dedicated employees who may otherwise not be able to live here because of the high cost of housing.

"They need homes, homes to provide stability. They'll become better employees. they'll become better parents, a better part of our community, to get our community back to where it was before Katrina, and even better," said Kimberly LaRosa, CEO of the Gulf Coast Renaissance Corporation.

REACH has three years to spend $40 million in Community Block Grant Development money to give to potential homeowners. Alfonso believes the REACH program will help employees, employers and will help jump start our local economy.

"Real estate is the common denominator. Housing is the common denominator. If housing is moving along, you have developers coming in building houses, commercial construction. You've got people buying refrigerators and stoves, having window treatments come in. It's really the common denominator for everything here," Alfonso said.

There is also two million dollars available for local workers in the public sector whose employers may not be able to afford down payment assistance for their employees. City and county government, as well as school district and non profit workers are eligible for these funds.

If you're an employer or employee who would like to find out more about the REACH program, call (228) 896-3386.