Robbins Group Readies Housing Effort
BY JOHN CHAPPELL
A rundown mill house in Robbins has a new look and a new future.
The Northern Moore Family Resource Center remodeled it, scraping away layer after layer of linoleum and floor coverings to reach and restore original hardwood floors. New roofing, new paint, new appliances and other improvements were shown off to supporters at a reception earlier this month.
The house will soon belong to one of the families NMFRC assists, the center's Marcae Stone said.
"Many people have been instrumental in helping renovate this home so we wanted everyone to see it before a family moves in," Stone said. "We will choose a family to live in the home at a very affordable rent and while they are living there, they will attend our free IDA Financial Literacy classes, which are once a month."
Those classes begin with creating a realistic spending plan. The center helps the family identify things in their budget that change from month to month such as grocery bills, utility bills, transportation cost, and discretionary spending such as eating out and going to the movies.
"We track family spending for a period of six months and watch for what we title 'budget busters' or things that prevent us from staying true to our spending plan," Stone said. "The second step is to open a savings account specifically designated for the purchase of a home. The participant is required to make a deposit every month into the account and this amount is set by the individual, based on their budget."
The Center requires no money be withdrawn for at least six months other than for an emergency. Stone said the purpose of this requirement is so the family will develop a regular habit of saving that will last long after their down payment savings goal has been reached.
A second financial education class follows. The next one is about establishing and building credit so that the participants are able to qualify for a mortgage or repairing credit that otherwise could prevent them from qualifying for a mortgage.
"We work one-on-one with the families in cleaning up their credit," Stone said. "I have received training and certification from the Association of Housing Counselors to offer this service, and there is no charge to our participants."
Family members learn the terminology involved before borrowing money and about different loan options - everything form car loans, credit cards, and lines of credit to mortgages as well as how to keep their money safe from fraud and identity theft.
"Once a savings goal of $1,000 is reached and all financial education classes have been completed and eight-hour First Time Home Buyers Workshop has been attended, we have grant money that matches their savings two to one to be used toward the purchase of a home."
That home buyers workshop covers topics important for families to know about mortgage qualifying, loan applications, the fees associated with a mortgage, such as appraisals, title searches etc, understanding the closing documents and then other expenses after closing such as moving costs, maintenance costs, costs of washing machines, refrigerators, emergency savings for unexpected expenses such as down the road expenditures such as new roofs, HVAC maintenance and so forth.
"Our hope is to avoid the possibility of foreclosure, once our participants have worked so hard to become home owners, Stone said. "I am very excited about this program and watching families who have never even considered it remotely possible to be homeowners be successful at building a future for their family through homeownership."
Now the center has its first restored residence ready to go, and is in process of choosing the first family who will own it. Other dilapidated old houses are candidates; they range up and down streets around the place where mill buildings burned to the ground a few years ago.
Contact John Chappell at (910) 783-5841 or jfchappell @gmail.com.
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