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Bouncing into the Homebuying Process

At this day and age, it is common for adult children to move back in with their parents. The cost of living continues to rise while the minimum wage remains stagnant. When you add three kids to the mix, affordable housing seems like a distant dream. At least that was the case for the Hernandez family.  As young parents, it was incredibly easy to rely on the comfort of living with their parents especially since their three small children were already providing enough chaos. But, as the American Dream persisted, having a place to call their own became their main priority.

The Hernandez family have been living with the father’s parents for the past three years. With two boys ages eight and six, and a four-year-old girl, the Hernandez family decided it was time to find a new place. When connected with HOME, Inc. they decided to go down the route of a lease-purchase agreement. The family could not get a mortgage due to the lack of rental history and from being young. They decided to rent with HOME, Inc. until they can build up enough credit and savings.

HOME, Inc. is now renting to the Hernandez family until they are able to purchase the house. The Hernandez family has already made the house a home though. With a trampoline in the backyard for the kids to jump high into the sky, a hammock for some relaxing time, beautifully refurbished furniture by the father who is into woodworking, and a big kitchen table for everyone to gather around for family meals. We are confident that the family loves their new home.

It just goes to show, no matter how young or how old you are, owning a home is possible. With a little motivation, eagerness, the help of HOME, Inc., and the idea of a trampoline, anything is possible. Even owning a home!

We are HUD Certified...

As you may have read or learned through our marketing materials, HOME, Inc. is a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) certified housing non-profit. That is all fine and dandy, but what does that mean? As HOME, Inc. has recently been re-certified we realized that we should let you know what that means, what services we provide, and how the certification can further help you and our community. 

HUD is a federally governed organization that helps create standards to help housing organizations succeed. For this year’s National Homeownership Month, HUD decided “to support stable and sustainable homeownership, … it is making $43 million in grants available to support hundreds of housing counseling organizations across the country.”

Some of the resources HUD certified organizations provide are “helping homebuyers evaluate if they are ready to buy a house, understand their financing and down payment options, help families find affordable rental housing, navigate through issues associated with Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs), and offer financial literacy training to help struggling families repair credit problems.” HOME, Inc. is proud to provide all of these programs and services to help homeowners, people who are struggling with homelessness, renters, landlords, and the general public. 

A HUD-certified organization must be a non-profit 501-C3 organization that serves everyone in their community regardless of identity. The housing counselors all must be HUD certified which means they have specific knowledge about “pre-purchase, rental assistance, foreclosure intervention, reverse mortgages, homeless assistance”.

In Iowa, there are a total of 12 HUD-certified agencies. HOME, Inc. is the only HUD certified non-profit in the Central Iowa area. 

We are so thankful to be HUD-certified and continue learning about how we can help our community!

We Love Our Counselors!

The counselors at HOME, Inc. have dedicated their career to helping change and improve people’s lives. They can and should be considered change-makers and life-changers. On the weekly blog, we write a lot of what we like to call Success Stories. We write about all the amazing families and individuals who are changing and improving their lives by creating housing stability, but we don’t often talk about the work the counselors are doing with the families to support them. 

The job of a counselor can be very difficult and the cases our counselors work with vary dramatically. Each story comes with a unique set of challenges. Some cases can be solved by a phone call and referral or the Rental Housing Handbook. Others can take years and long conversations with ups and downs, two steps forward one step back. Yet, no matter what case our counselors get faced with they confront them head-on with confidence and support and help follow through until the end. 

To all of our HOME, Inc. counselors both past and present: 

You are appreciated. 
The work you do is valued. 
We are incredibly proud of you and the work you do day in and day out. 
Thank you for dedicating your life to such an important cause. 
You have truly made a lasting impact on many lives. 

Here are some inspiring quotes our counselors have received!

“To everyone who are taking the time out to help our family, we want to say thank you and we are very thankful for everything you guys do for our community, may god bless everyone who had a helping hand in helping all the families this year. Thank you so much.”

“We are able to enjoy the Holidays without stressing about extra help with our family. Our sons are doing well in school and our other son is a big joy in daycare. I have been doing my best to support them financially, physically, mentally, etc.”

“I would like to talk about a counselor who I was blessed by her coaching, pushing, cheering, and don’t forget butt kicking as needed, without whom my process of homeownership would not have happened. She has already had a ‘you can do it’, ‘you’ve worked so hard’, ‘you’re not gonna give up now, are ya?’ whatever it took to motivate me… I’m sure there are countless others that would have not made it through the journey without her, this lady has true spirit of love. Without her homeownership would remain a DREAM for many. Thank you.”

Partnership with DMARC

You might be thinking to yourself, why is an affordable housing non-profit working with a food pantry network? One works with houses and the other works with food. Well, both organizations help primarily low-income populations. The tools we use to help are different, but at the end of the day there are three necessities to survival: shelter, food, and water. Both DMARC and HOME, Inc. strive to meet these basics needs while also helping families gain a sense of stability. 

When struggling financially, meeting both food security and housing can be a tough decision. With limited funds there comes the question of ‘whether to buy groceries or pay rent’. With a majority of low-income tenants paying more than 30% of their income on rent, not having money to pay for food is common. Food banks have stepped in to accommodate this problem, yet should not be the solution. If we work to make housing more affordable, people who are working at minimum wage will be able to pay for both their housing and their nourishment. 

The need for food pantries has increased dramatically over the years. There has been a 73% increase in the usage of DMARC pantries since 2012. In the 2017-18 Fiscal year, DMARC assisted 50,708 individuals in the community and saw a monthly increase of 10.4% of people visiting the pantries. 

In an attempt to collaborate with community partners, HOME, Inc. was given a private presentation of DMARC’s data using their highly intuitive dashboard that shows pantry usage in real time across a map of Central Iowa. Both our staff and board were so impressed with the presentation and knew we had to be part of the solution. As of now, we are is in the process of sharing our data to overlap our client base with theirs to show we are supporting the same population. By showing that both an affordable housing agency and food pantry collective are helping a similar group of people we could focus on fixing the underlying affordable housing issue while simultaneously eliminating food insecurities. Our hope is that through collaboration and conversations with the right community members, our nonprofits can make positive long-lasting change for low-income families.