Programs Teach Families Self-Sufficiency and Financial Independence
ALBANY, NY (readMedia)– The NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) became the national leader in providing homeownership opportunities as it marked the 300th closing in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Home Ownership Program – more than any other housing agency in the country.
Governor Paterson said, “Providing a family with the opportunity to own an attractive, safe home that they can afford to maintain helps them to build a better future for themselves and their children. While homeownership brings greater responsibility, it also brings greater stability for working families and for their communities.”
Brian Lawlor, acting commissioner of DHCR, said, “The dedicated staff at DHCR who administer the Section 8 program, and the Local Program Administrators who help us fulfill our mission, should be proud of their achievement.
Many of the families we’ve helped may never have had a chance to own their home. The fact that none of these families have faced foreclosure is a testament to DHCR’s homeownership counseling programs which ensure our clients are prepared to address the challenges of homeownership without taking unnecessary financial risks or gambling on variable rate mortgage loans.”
The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) began the Section 8 program to provide rental subsidies, but expanded the program in 2000 to help eligible participants purchase a home of their own. DHCR was one of the first housing agencies in the country to participate in the home ownership pilot program.
By marking its 300th home closing without a foreclosure, DHCR has become the most successful public housing agency in the nation participating in the Home Ownership Program. Crystal and Robert Edwards and their two children became the 300th new homeowners when they closed on their 3 bedroom home in Cortland County.
Crystal Edwards said “The opportunities presented to us by DHCR’s programs have helped our family become more self-sufficient and independent. Now we have a beautiful and affordable home in our community that we love.”
One of Crystal’s achievements prior to becoming a home owner was that she successfully completed the Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) Program. This program helps low-income Section 8 families that want to become economically independent by providing the education, employment, and business and social skills necessary to achieve self-sufficiency.
Enrollees are considered to have completed the FSS Program when the head of household has obtained full-time employment, all family members are free from receiving welfare assistance, and other set goals in their goal plan have been achieved. To date, more than 1,800 families have successfully completed and graduated from the DHCR Statewide FSS Program, and nearly 2,200 additional families are currently enrolled in FSS.
Through the FSS program, the Edwards’ earned funding which they used for fuel and an oil tank, appraisal fees, home owners insurance, application fees, and their professional home inspection.
Crystal and Robert also participated in the Assets for Independence (AFI) program, a new initiative started at DHCR in January 2008. The AFI program provides matched-savings for down-payment for income-eligible first time home buyers. AFI clients MUST attend home buyer education classes and be mortgage-ready upon completion of their savings plan. Those Section 8 participants enrolled save toward a single-family home with a 4:1 matching grant of up to $7500 and other low income eligible families enrolled may save toward a single or multi-family home with a 6:1 matching grant of up to $11,250. Both savings options allow clients 12-24 months to complete their matched-savings goal.
They were also able to obtain $20,000 in HOME funds through DHCR for down payment and closing costs, as well as a $30,000 deferred low interest 2nd mortgage to make the home more affordable.