The Housing & Development Corporation of Bartow County and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs will hold a homebuyer's educational workshop Saturday, Jan. 8. The free event will provide essential information for those looking at purchasing a home.
Angela Thomas-Cooley, housing counselor with the Etowah Area Housing Authority, said the organization began hosting workshops in the late 1990s. She said in 1999, officials began working on getting residents of the Etowah Housing Authority into homes.
The housing authority contacted the city and the DCA about obtaining down payment assistance for residents. Through the Community Home Investment Program, the organization is able to offer $10,000 down payments to those who meet the qualifications.
According to the DCA, "CHIP uses a portion of DCA's HOME funds to assist local governments, nonprofit organizations and public housing authorities to implement affordable housing in their communities. CHIP funds may be used to provide down payment assistance or homeowner rehabilitation funding to eligible low- and moderate-income households."
Under the program, those who obtain the down payment assistance must purchase a home in the city of Cartersville and remain in the home for five years. After those five years, the down payment does not have to be repaid.
Thomas-Cooley said the authority has had several residents purchase homes with the CHIP program.
Additionally, down payment assistance is available through the Georgia Dream Home Ownership Program, which offers $5,000 in down payment assistance for those who buy a home in Georgia. Those in education, health care or protection may qualify for $7,500 in aid.
During the workshop, participants will be able to speak with lenders, real estate professionals, home insurance agents, home inspection agents, closing attorneys and housing counselors.
Cartersville Director of Community Services Pete Alday said representatives will discuss all the facets of owning a home and the responsibilities associated with being a homeowner.
Interested persons are scored based on credit rating and income. For a one-person household, income can not surpass $40,150; for two people, $45,900; for three, $51,600; and for four, $57,350.
"Since we are in the Atlanta metropolitan area, it's very high," Thomas-Cooley said of the income limits, which are based on the median Georgia income.
She said when the program started, it was slow to catch on.
"The very first one we had it took almost three and a half years to spend it because no one believes it," she said, adding workshops regularly have waiting lists.
For those living in low-income housing, the assistance program offers the chance to fulfill a dream.
"It gives them hope. ... Some of them are living here because of bad choices, something that has happened. They move in here to save," Thomas-Cooley said. "It gives them a way to have the American dream. As long as they are creditworthy, they can get this loan."
"It's just the American dream -- to own a home. There were a half dozen or so that are now in their own home, never dreaming they would own their own home," he said of the program he sees as a benefit to the city.
"Some people think homeowners are more apt to maintain their home, contribute ... We've put 70-some families in their first homes, they are homebuyers in the city. It's just a plus for the city," Alday said.
With 20 spaces remaining for the Jan. 8 workshop, Thomas-Cooley urges interested residents to call. The program is open to anyone who meets the requirements.
"If they're seriously ready to purchase their home and they're creditworthy, please call. We will continue to have these classes bimonthly, it isn't going away," she said. "Don't feel like if you don't make this class this is it."
The educational workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 240 Stonewall St. in Cartersville. The event is free, and continental breakfast and lunch will be provided. No childcare is available. To register, call Thomas-Cooley at 770-382-1414. Space is limited.