Maximum $18,000 available for prospective first-time home buyers

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

NCO CDC seeks to increase homeownership in S.C.

First-time homeowner, Deborah Keitt, purchased her home with a grant from SC State 1890 Research and Extension’s Northeastern Corridor of Orangeburg Community Development Corporation.ORANGEBURG - South Carolinians with very low to low income may qualify to receive up to $18,000 toward purchasing a home as part of a first-time home buyer program through SC State’s 1890 Research and Extension.

Seven future homeowners will receive an $18,000 grant, while 14 home buyers will be awarded $8,700 in funding toward the use of down payment or closing costs assistance. The grants are available through the Affordable Housing Program, which 1890 Research and Extension’s Northeastern Corridor of Orangeburg Community Development Corporation (NCO CDC) administers. Grant recipients are not required to repay the funds. In all, the program will provide financial help to 20 home buyers statewide.

The program’s first recipient, Deborah Keitt, who is on disability after suffering from kidney cancer 10 years ago, is a single mother with two daughters - a 24-year-old with cerebral palsy and a 13-year-old. She purchased her home with a mortgage she obtained from Rural Development and the grant she received from the NCO CDC. After learning she would not have to pay back the NCO CDC grant, Keitt was encouraged to pursue her life long dream of homeownership, and she offers the same hope to potential home buyers, especially single parents.

“Don’t be afraid to try and make that first step. Don’t think you won’t be able to afford a house because there is a way that you can afford a house and make it and not struggle,” said Keitt, who closed on her Orangeburg home on Sept. 4.

Keitt also attributes her ability to purchase a home to the personal attention she received from NCO CDC staff. For instance, when Keitt needed to take home buying workshop courses in Columbia, Angela Terry, an administrative specialist for the NCO CDC, drove Keitt to all of her classes.

“Ms. Jackson [NCO CDC executive director] and Ms. Terry were very nice people. Ms. Jackson marched me through the whole thing. She explained everything to me that I needed to do. I don’t think I could have done it [purchase a home] without their help,” said Keitt.

The NCO CDC is able to award the grants to first-time home buyers after receiving a $200,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta and an $80,000 grant from the South Carolina Housing Finance and Development Authority. Potential grant recipients must first complete approved home buyer education courses within the past year and meet the requirements for obtaining a mortgage from any lending institution.

“Programs offered by 1890 Research and Extension are often designed as solutions to many of the problems our clients face,” said Delbert Foster, assistant administrator for community education and public service activities. “What was once considered affordable housing for many of the people we serve, has become too expensive. The NCO CDC is providing financial resources to help make purchasing a home an attainable goal for persons with limited income.”

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.

“We’re not giving a hand out, but we’re giving a hand up, and that hand up is assisting individuals to become homeowners.” said Jackson.

To participate in the Affordable Housing Program, call the Northeastern Corridor of Orangeburg Community Development Corporation’s Merylin Jackson or Angela Terry at (803) 531-8189..