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Foundation helps people buy homes



Published: Thu, March 6, 2008 @ 12:00 a.m.

Foundation helps people buy homes

Up to $10,000 in assistance is available to those who qualify.

By ANGIE SCHMITT

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN — When Kofee Lilly, 32, picked up the keys to her first home Sunday, she was changing her city for the better without realizing it.

Homeowners, say officials with the Raymond John Wean Foundation, stabilize neighborhoods, provide funding for public entities and are known to outdo their renting counterparts when it comes to property maintenance.

That’s why the Wean Foundation contributed $575,000 this year to help individuals like Lilly buy homes in Youngstown and Warren. Lilly was one of the first two to take advantage of the foundation’s new Urban Homeownership Incentive Program, providing $5,000 in down-payment assistance and up to $5,000 in home repair grants.

“It still feels unreal right now,” said Lilly, an engaged mother of one who works at Neil Kennedy Recovery Clinic. “It changed the scope of everything.”

The Wean Foundation and its partners, Buy Into Youngstown and Catholic Charities, hope to help 100 families buy homes in Youngstown and Warren this year. Twenty-five families have already applied for assistance, said spokesman Vince Bevacqua.

“It’s just a little bit of extra help that will lead people to buy in Youngstown,” Bevacqua said. “This program is really seeding homeowners into the neighborhood.”

Because of a perceived imbalance in need, $500,000 has been set aside for prospective Youngstown homeowners, $75,000 for Warren, Bevacqua said.

Individuals of any income level are eligible for the down-payment assistance. To qualify, individuals must work for a nonprofit, Youngstown State University or a government entity. If the applicant is a first-time homebuyer, or has experienced bankruptcy or foreclosure within the last two years, he or she must undergo financial education from Buy Into Youngstown.

To qualify for up to $5,000 in additional home repair assistance, the applicant’s household income must be less than $37,750 for a two-person household, or $47,200 for a family of four. Home repair grantees must also contribute 5 percent of their grant award toward a down payment.

Lilly qualified under those guidelines and received the full $10,000 in assistance. Buy Into Youngstown also helped her find a more favorable loan. Her original agreement — unknown to Lilly — was subprime.

“It has been a big help,” said Lilly.

For more information about the program, call Janine Martindale at (330) 941-1383.

aschmitt@vindy.com


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