‘Sweat equity’ goes long way towards home ownership
As part of the Family Resources of New Orleans “Self-Help” Housing Program, Love was given the chance to build her dream home, supplying her with affordable rates and the sense of pride only a homeowner can feel. The FRNO Self-Help Housing Program was started to help low-income families wanting, but struggling, to become homeowners.
Eligibility for the program is fairly simple. A person must be within the program’s income levels, have a sufficient income to afford homeownership, have less than 41 percent of their income going to debt payments, and have an acceptable credit history.
Even if one is having problems with credit, the housing program helps by giving credit counseling on lowering debt and raising credit scores. From there, the families, or person, must work at least 35 hours a week, assisting the contractors in building their home.
Love was first told about the program from a friend - an electrician who knew about, and sometimes helped, with the program. After hearing about all of the benefits, she decided to apply.
“When I applied, my credit score wasn’t its best, and a good score was needed,” Love said. “They gave me credit counseling and tips that helped me to eventually pay off my debt and raise my credit score. “It was all extremely helpful.”
Once her score was set, they began the building of her home.
That work included clean-up of the grounds, helping install insulation, the actual painting and trim work, and any assistance she could give to the contractors when needed.
Love admits that she’s had previous experience with some of the work, such as the painting.
“But anything I didn’t know how to do, they easily showed me how.”
After many months of this work the program wittily calls “sweat equity,” Love’s home is more beautiful than ever, and she’s gained much from her experience.
“There’s a lot I got with the program that I normally wouldn’t have. After watching all of the contractors work, as well as my own work on the home, I have knowledge on how the home is built,” Love said. “So, if anything ever breaks, I’ll be able to repair it myself.”
And by putting her own sweat and tears into the home, Love will never take it for granted.
“I think I appreciate my home more than I might have because of the hard work I put into it,” she said. “It took a lot of effort, so I’m going to take care of it just as much.”
But aside from the actual experience of building a home, Love learned how to take care of her finances.
“I’m very thankful for the credit counseling they gave me, because I now know how to keep up with my credit on my own rather than needing further assistance,” she said. “That’s great, because there are so many more opportunities when you have a good credit score.”
With this supportive program, the dream of owning a home was easier for Love to attain. Now, she is passing it on to her friends.
“I would personally recommend this program to any low to average income families,” she said. “It does many things, but one of the best is it helps make friends of neighbors. I still remember how we’d help each other on each of our homes.
“It’s really a wonderful program because it’s great for home owning, credit building, and building important community ties.”
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