Aspiring homeowners have to jump several hurdles before achieving the American dream of homeownership.
They have to make sure their credit score is high enough to get a loan, shop for a Realtor, find a mortgage lender, and so on.
For low to moderate-income families, these hurdles are even bigger. But first-time homeowners in north Baton Rouge now have the Urban Restoration Enhancement Corp. and its partners to help them with those hurdles.
UREC, the Scotlandville Community Development Corp. and HomeOwners Preparation and Enhancement LLC have finished Phase 1 of building Urban Gardens, the residential development in north Baton Rouge with affordable homes for first-time homeowners.
Nine homes have been constructed and seven have been sold, said Ronnie Edwards, special projects manager for UREC.
The community will have 21 homes along with communal gardens by the end of construction. It is part of a larger project to bring economic development to an under-served community.
A housing expo Oct. 5 at Delmont Service Center, 3535 Riley St., will show off these new homes along with other north Baton Rouge properties for sale. UREC expects to have 100 or more participants at the expo, including mortgage lenders, housing educators, home inspectors and other professionals who will give seminars to first-time homeowners, Edwards said.
However, those interested in purchasing a home in Urban Gardens must first qualify and go through 15 hours of free training. To qualify, a person must provide two years of tax information, have a credit score roughly between 640 and 690 and meet income and household size requirements, Edwards said.
The training goes through the entire gambit of purchasing a home, including from the application for a mortgage to the management of a home once purchased, she said. UREC finished a training session at the end of last month and will hold another training session once it gets 10 to 15 qualified participants, she said.
Henry Spain, 67, went through the process about two years ago. He now lives at Urban Gardens and serves as president of the subdivision’s homeowners’ association. “I’m still in Disneyland,” he said, explaining what it feels like to be a homeowner.
Spain, who retired from Cribs Incorporated Roofing and Sheet Metal and worked on railroads, said he always knew he wanted to own a home, just like his mother owned her home in Ethel where he grew up.
“I always had that kind of ambition to have my own,” he said.
It only took two to three months for him to buy a home after he applied, Spain said, because UREC helped him through the process, step-by-step.
It also helped that Spain did not have credit problems, which many applicants cannot say. Edwards said UREC sometimes goes through 100 or more applicants before finding someone who is credit worthy.
UREC does offer help to those with inadequate credit. Geraldine Kuyoro, 57, received credit help from UREC and has been a homeowner at Urban Gardens for about a year. She said UREC helped her become a homeowner and now she has a home that will last for future generations.
“I have a home that will be mine as long as I live … and then I can pass it down to my grandchildren,” she said.