Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

HAC Turns Dreams of Homeownership into a Reality

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Nov 16, 2016 @ 12:23 PM
Troy Beth and Julian Smith Edited-2.jpgTroy and Beth Smith with their 17-year-old son Julian. Now that they are homeowners, Beth said, "I feel like we're a part of the community. I feel like we really belong on Cape Cod." 

This past summer, Troy, Beth and Julian Smith sat outside in their Centerville backyard watching “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” playing on a movie projector. They were joined by friends and family and there was music playing, a fire pit blazing and tiki lamps burning, adding warmth to the festive gathering.

It was an idyllic setting, evidence that the Smiths have settled into this place called home. “For now, it’s our little thing. Our little moment,” Troy said of the summer movie night which, in its second year, is becoming a family tradition.

It is a moment made possible by HAC’s Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC). Between the two of them, Troy and Beth took HCEC’s First-Time Homebuyer workshop three times.

The couple, who have been together for 32 years and married for 28, had briefly lived on Cape Cod in the mid-80s before moving to Boston. In 2001, they returned to the Cape with their then-two-year-old son Julian. “We loved Cape Cod and always knew we were coming back,” Troy said.

They had originally planned to rent for a year and then buy a house. “We didn’t realize it would be a 14-year odyssey,” Troy said.

The initial step towards homeownership was taking HAC’s class geared towards first-time homebuyers. “The first time we took it was great,” said Beth. “It showed us we weren’t ready… It helped us fix our credit score, plan accordingly for what might lie ahead and we started thinking realistically about savings and investments and what it means to be a homeowner.”

A little more than a year later, Beth opted to take the class once again. And Troy took the online course.

A Better Understanding
Taking the class multiple times allowed the Smiths a chance to understand what questions to ask Cheryl Kramer, HAC’s HCEC manager, as they moved forward with their dreams of homeownership. “No one tells you the exact things that are going to happen and all the steps involved until you take the class,” Beth said. “Then you meet building inspectors, insurance people and bankers. It seems overwhelming at first, but when you put the pieces together, it’s doable if you’re organized.”

After finishing the second round of classes, the Smiths

started looking for a home in Barnstable in early 2015. They eventually found a two-bedroom ranch that happened to be just one block over from the house they had been renting the past 14 years.

Thanks to the help of HAC’s Karin Bar, the couple qualified for $10,000 in down payment assistance that went towards the purchase of their home. HAC administers the funds through Barnstable County’s HOME Program.

When they finally closed on the home last year, Beth said, “we screamed and yelled and cried.”

“We had always hoped and dreamed of buying a home,” Troy said.

“But we never thought it would be a reality,” Beth said.

Today, the Smiths could not be happier and they give a lot of credit to HAC. “We knew everyone at HAC was going to help us and they did every single time we called,” said Troy.

As to what owning a home means, Troy said, “there is a certain degree of pride involved that you accomplished something. It was a difficult journey to buy a house and some people don’t make it or quit, or do it foolishly and have their home foreclosed on. But I’m grateful we listened to the advice HAC gave us. It paid off tremendously. We wake up happy every day.”

To learn more about HAC's First-Time Homebuyer Workshop, click this link. And to help families like the Smiths experience the joy of homeownership on Cape Cod and the Islands, click this link

Tags: HCEC, homeownership, First-Time Homebuyer workshop, Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance Program

Making Homeownership Attainable

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Jun 28, 2016 @ 11:59 AM
Homeownership_Conference.jpgElliot Schmiedl of MHP talks about his agency's ONE Mortgage Program that makes homeownership more attainable for those in Massachusetts. 

When it comes to housing on Cape Cod, it’s not just about affordability. It’s also about attainability.

That concept took center stage during the Cape Cod and Islands Homeownership Collaborative held at HAC last month. Featuring representatives from HAC, MassHousing, Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP) and the United States Department of Agriculture, the workshop allowed local lenders to learn about the mortgage programs available to residents to ensure housing is both affordable and attainable.

The session began with HAC’s Karin Bar highlighting changes to Barnstable County’s HOME Program which she administers for the agency. Available to those that make 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) for Barnstable County, the program provides closing cost and down payment assistance for first-time homebuyers. That assistance has increased from a maximum of $10,000 to $20,000 awarded to recipients based on need that comes in the form of a zero payment, zero interest loan that is paid back upon sale of the property.
“I’ve had the pleasure of helping 22 households since I took over the program a couple of years ago,” Bar told those in attendance. “This is a great program and I’m very excited about it. And I’m very happy we’re all here today so we can make homeownership more attainable.”

Over a two-hour period, lenders had a chance to learn about MassHousing’s lending opportunities. “We are no longer just a lender for first-time homebuyers, but a lender for repeat buyers for someone who may have owned in the past and is looking to own again,” said MassHousing business development officer Maureen Moriarty. “With Massachusetts being a high cost area, we see a lot of people struggle to get into a second home.”

Keeping People in Their Homes
Moriarty was joined by her colleague Goretti Joaquim who provided information on her agency’s mortgage insurance program known as MI Plus which provides up to $2,000 per month that goes to cover mortgage payments for borrowers who may have lost their job. Since 2004, she said MI Plus has assisted nearly 1,000 such people, keeping over 850 of them in their homes. “Our mission is to keep people in their homes and people intact which is huge,” she said.

Homeownership_Conference_2.jpgMassHousing's Goretti Joaquim talks to local lenders abou her agency's mortgage insurance program.

At MHP, the ONE Mortgage Program has provided 19,000 loans to income-eligible residents in Massachusetts since 1991. The program, which is only open to first-time homebuyers, reduces the down payment required to purchase a home while providing the borrower with a fixed interest rate over 30 years. Some borrowers may even qualify for a one-time subsidy spread out over the first seven years of owning their home.

MHP’s Elliot Schmiedl said loans his agency provides can reduce a monthly income payment by nearly $450 for a low-income borrower and just over $300 for a moderate-income borrower, making homeownership that much more of a possibility. “It is so difficult for low to moderate income borrowers to even get into the market,” he said. “Not much is affordable anymore.”

The workshop ended with USDA’s Michael Rendulic who highlighted his department’s services which includes financing roughly $21 billion in housing projects throughout the country. Of that, he said $223 million went to rural areas of Massachusetts which includes every town on Cape Cod except the town of Barnstable.

The USDA’s housing programs include rental assistance for elderly and low-income residents; direct loans; and funding repairs for income-eligible homeowners.

To learn more about Barnstable County's HOME Program contact HAC's Karin Bar at kbar@haconcapecod.org or at 508-771-5400, ext. 289. 

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, affordable housing, homeownership, MassHousing, Karin Bar, Barnstable County HOME Program, Massachusetts Housing Partnership