Thursday, October 08, 2009
Over a dozen working single parents in Orangeburg County have realized their dream of homeownership after completing a first-time home buyers program that provides grants of up to $10,000 to qualified applicants, who can apply the money toward down payment or closing costs.
The Northeastern Corridor of Orangeburg Community Development Corporation (NCO CDC), a department in the 1890 Research & Extension Program at SC State University, administers the Affordable Housing Program, of which the parents are former participants. The NCO CDC awards the grants to low-to-moderate income families in South Carolina. Program recipients are not required to repay the funds.
“Single parents are usually apprehensive about home buying because they are restricted to using one income only; however, our program is designed to assist those like working single mothers and fathers who have limited income,” says Merylin Jackson, NCO CDC executive director.
Although all the recipients of the program have been parents thus far, Jackson notes, the program is available to anyone who meets the program’s criteria. To qualify for the grants, program participants must first complete an approved home buyer education course and meet the requirements for obtaining a mortgage from South Carolina Bank and Trust.
The NCO CDC has provided $223,552.00 in grants to 20 recipients since the program’s inception in 1998. The CDC distributes the grants based on funding awarded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s HBCU grant and from other sources such as the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta in partnership with South Carolina Bank and Trust and the South Carolina Housing Finance and Development Authority.
“We’ve found that our applicants can afford a mortgage payment, but what they don’t have is that initial seed money for a down payment or closing costs. The financial support from these agencies makes it possible for the Community Development Corporation to offer the assistance our clients need to become a homeowner,” says Jackson.
Heather Rozier, a single mother of a 13-year old son and 15-month old daughter, is a former program recipient, who purchased her first home in Cordova, S.C. Rozier, who works as a certified pharmacy technician in the Orange Cut Rate Pharmacy in Orangeburg, S.C., lived with her mom while raising her two children before she purchased her home.
Living with her mom was not an ideal situation for the 33-year old. She wanted to become more self-sufficient and thought homeownership would give her the independence she sought. So, in 2007 Rozier enrolled in and completed the NCO CDC’s Homebuyers Education Workshop, a series of classes focusing on topics such as understanding and avoiding predatory lending, improving credit scores, learning how to budget and using basic home repairs to care for a home. Upon completion of the counseling education program, Rozier began the home buying process under the Affordable Housing Program.
“I knew that in order for me to be independent I needed to be out on my own,” said Rozier. Independence came for Rozier in April 2008 when she purchased a $112,000 house with an $11,500 grant from the NCO CDC and additional funding from other sources.
“I could not have done it [purchase a home] without the program. I was absolutely clueless in the beginning, but everyone [NCO CDC staff and her realtor] just helped me so much,” said Rozier.
The NCO CDC works to improve the economic conditions and opportunities for residents in the state of South Carolina and hopes to build wealth for its clients through similar initiatives such as the Affordable Housing Program.
“Programs offered by 1890 Research & Extension are designed as solutions to many of the problems our clients face,” said Delbert Foster, Extension administrator. “What was once considered affordable housing for many of the people we serve, has become too expensive and somewhat more difficult to attain since the decline in the housing market. The NCO CDC is providing the financial resources to help make purchasing a home an attainable goal for persons with limited income.”
The NCO CDC still has funding available to help potential first-time homebuyers in Orangeburg County. For more details, interested participants should contact the Northeastern Corridor of Orangeburg Community Development Center’s Merylin Jackson or Angela Terry at (803) 531-8189.