Researchers say the key to homebuyer happiness is education; consumers
who understand the homebuying process are more likely to end up
with a home they're happy with and less likely to be taken in by
abusive lenders. With that in mind, the "Homeownership Express"
headed into Birmingham, Alabama, to spread the word that when it
comes to buying a home, a little knowledge can be a powerful weapon.
At a noon event at Centennial Place, a one-stop homeownership center
designed to improve the homeownership rate for low- to moderate-income
homebuyers, HUD Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental
Relations Steven Nesmith recognized the partnership between Southtrust
Mortgage Corporation, Neighborhood Housing Services, and the New
Hope Federal Credit Union that created Centennial Place.
Within the past year, Neighborhood Housing Services has provided
homeownership education for more than 135 families and assisted
40 of those families in becoming first-time homeowners. They expect
to help even more families in the future through the addition of
a resource like the Centennial Place homeownership center.
Within the center, families will find all the resources they need
to make the transition from renting to owning their own homes, including
credit counseling, assistance in identifying the best mortgage program
to meet their individual needs, and information about their rights
and responsibilities as homebuyers.
Sonia Tate Smith is one of the many proud Birmingham families who
have traveled the road to homeownership through the help of housing
counseling. Sonia spoke to the crowd and recalled how, just two
years ago, she had seen a television commercial about owning a home.
That moved her to begin the process that eventually led to homeownership.
Her smile spoke volumes about just how much it means to Sonia to
have a home of her own.
In his remarks, U.S. Representative Artur Davis echoed sentiments
frequently expressed by HUD Secretary Mel Martinez when he called
for a bipartisan effort to increase homeownership.
The Birmingham Housing Authority was also recognized during the
program for its successful efforts to secure a $28 million HOPE
VI grant from HUD. Construction on the first phase of the $100 million
project will begin soon. Overall, the project will create 637 townhouses,
apartments, and condominiums, with 264 of them specifically designated
for public housing residents.
The following individuals took part in the event and were recognized
for their efforts to increase homeownership opportunities for Alabama
families: Jim Ceyte, President, Alabama Association of Mortgage
Brokers; Pastor Greg Clark, New Hope Baptist Church; Craig Nickerson,
Vice President, Freddie Mac; Wade King, President and CEO, South
Trust Mortgage Corporation; John Johnson, Board Member, Mortgage
Bankers Association of America; Damian Gilbert, Chairman, Neighborhood
Housing Services; and HUD Regional Director Brian Noyes.
Tomorrow: The bus visits a homeownership fair in Nashville.