This column has been appearing weekly for more than 18 years! In that time we’ve enjoyed talking about various aspects of all things housing and, occasionally, about what we do here at NeighborWorks.
In 1981, we became officially affiliated with a nationwide organization originally known as Neighborhood Reinvestment. It was created by Congress to address the needs of low-income, blighted communities suffering from the effects of deteriorating housing. Now it is called NeighborWorks America, and NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor County is one of the oldest chartered organizations of nearly 250 located in every state and U.S. possession.
We have the benefit of substantial educational opportunities and financial resources, but also the perspective, help and wisdom of nearly 250 large and small organizations doing some or all of what we do — and many of them much more. This is called the NeighborWorks Network.
The executive directors will be meeting in March for the annual Directors Symposium in Washington, D.C. The purpose of this meeting is twofold. The first is to better understand the national picture of what is happening in all things housing. We also share our local challenges, opportunities and best practices through structured networking. The take-away is that nationwide, we share so many of the same struggles, but the solutions can be very different in rural areas than in large urban areas.
Second, the directors take a day to visit as many senators and representatives possible for quick conversations that advocate for NeighborWorks America. We do this by sharing data to demonstrate our impact locally, statewide and nationwide. Members of Congress appreciate this direct input because it helps them better understand their constituents’ needs at home — your needs. In an upcoming column, we will bring NeighborWorks America as a network into clear focus.
In the meantime, it’s key that the citizens of Grays Harbor know what the local organization does for them.
In a nutshell, our volunteer board and staff are very committed to providing decent, safe and affordable housing opportunities for the Grays Harbor community. We tell anyone who will read this column or listen to us on the local radio talk shows about all the different programs and areas of expertise we can provide.
Our motivation is helping more people find solutions for their various housing, home maintenance and budgeting needs. Our intent is to support sustainable housing for homeowners, buyers and renters through no-cost counseling/advising, home buyer education, tailored loans, construction management and community education opportunities, like this weekly column.
As you look at this list in the next two weeks, even if you currently aren’t in need, perhaps you have a neighbor, friend or relative who could use one of our services.
WHO CAN RECEIVE
We were established more than 35 years ago to develop the funding and construction expertise necessary to offer an owner-occupied rehabilitation program in a targeted neighborhood in Aberdeen. Since then, we’ve expanded our services menu and service area several times.
We serve folks of all incomes in some way and have income-qualified loan products focused on the purchase and or rehabilitation of owner-occupied homes. While many of our loan products are intended to serve income-qualified folks, anyone can access our HUD housing counseling at no cost. We also offer construction management on a fee-for-service basis regardless of income.
Our rehab loans always include the beginning–to-completion construction management.
Here are some of our services (more next week):
Mortgage default counseling is intended to be a foreclosure prevention program. Our counselor collects the information your lender requires in order to discuss your options and, where possible, to negotiate your situation with your mortgage company (or other creditors as necessary) making every effort to avoid foreclosure and stabilize your housing situation.
HOME BUYER ASSISTANCE
On the other end of the spectrum, if you are looking into buying a home, we may be able to help guide you to down-payment assistance and first mortgage opportunities. It’s one of the many services we offer to help encourage homeownership.
Before getting financial help from us — or anyone else — for a down payment, if you’re a first-time home buyer, you’ll do well to get home buyer education. We offer an online course using eHome. The course is very comprehensive, convenient, inexpensive and an eligibility requirement for many of the best affordable lending programs, including ours and many of our partners’ loan products.
In Washington state, anyone can access it on the internet through HomeSage.org. You will find us as your helpful agency to take you all the way to homeownership.
Created by Community Venture Corp. and NeighborWorks America, this online course is recognized throughout the country as being one of the best home buyer educations out there. It takes about six to eight hours to complete.
For just $50 you can complete the course at your own pace, at the time that’s convenient for you, in the privacy and convenience of your own home — or anywhere there’s an internet connection, even on a smartphone.
It includes animated videos, easy-to-read content and module quizzes throughout to ensure your complete understanding of the home buying process. It also includes a one-on-one advisory session with our HUD-approved housing counselor here in Aberdeen — in person or by phone. The course is also available in Spanish.
The course certificate is accepted by USDA, Washington State Housing Finance Commission and other lenders that require it for some of their first-time home buyer loan products.
At the successful completion of this simple but comprehensive course, you will receive a certificate of completion that will make you eligible to apply for down payment assistance and first mortgage funding — although this does not guarantee they’ll be available when you need them, or that you will secure them. As you will learn, there is plenty to know and prepare for when becoming a sustainable homeowner.
HOME BUYER counseling
When you have completed the course, you can ask questions about anything regarding the home buying process. We not only discuss the home-purchase process, but also offer support and assistance from application to closing.
Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is executive director. For questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or buying, call 360-533-7828 or visit 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen.