Family Housing Advisory Services & Omaha 100: Making the American Dream a Reality
Publish Date: June, 2018
The American Dream is the belief that anyone can attain success and upward mobility. The American Dream is achieved through sacrifice and hard work. For most people, the American Dream includes owning a home. But for many low- to moderate-income Americans, the American Dream is just that- a dream that may never become a reality. Common barriers to homeownership for these individuals include credit worthiness, lack of income or savings for a down payment, and uncertainty on the process of purchasing a home. In fact, in First National Bank of Omaha’s Mortgage and Money Survey, nearly 50% of respondents cited these barriers as reasons for not purchasing a home.
Fortunately, nonprofit organizations such as Family Housing Advisory Services (FHAS) and their affiliate, Omaha 100, are working to make homeownership in the Omaha community a reality, one household at a time. The mission of FHAS is to improve the quality of life and eliminate poverty by helping people achieve housing stability and financial security, both of which can be achieved through homeownership. FHAS’ Homeownership Education Program was established in 1997 to help the dream of homeownership cross economic boundaries to include low- to moderate-income individuals and families. This demographic is often comprised of single non-white females with children, as well as individuals with disabilities, the working poor, veterans, and seniors.
“We help people build assets through homeownership,” said Teresa Hunter, Executive Director and CEO of FHAS. “First generation homeowners and low- to moderate-income individuals have many homeownership opportunities available to them. Our Homeownership Education Program helps those who wish to own their own home by walking them through the steps they must take to ensure a successful transition from renter to homeowner.”
Clients are referred to FHAS’ Homeowner Education Program by various community partners as well as referrals from past program participants. They assist low-income households by first identifying their barriers to homeownership and then helping them develop a plan to overcome those barriers. “The quest for homeownership often leads potential homeowners on a journey to self-improvement,” said Donna McFadden, Homeownership Program Director of FHAS. “Homeownership requires a home loan. A home loan requires good credit, stable income, and savings. We work with our clients by providing skills to improve credit, increase income, and accumulate savings, and hopefully lift themselves out of poverty.” The program is funded in part by community partners such as First National Bank. Because FHAS is certified by HUD, clients can be assured that the only thing FHAS asks for in return is that they remain committed to the road to homeownership.
Depending on the barriers present, the self-improvement period can take months and even years. The first step is for clients to attend 12-hour Housing and Urban Development (HUD) certified course. Once the course is completed, FHAS counselors work with clients to develop a mortgage action plan that details the credit and/or financial repair that needs to be corrected before homeownership can be achieved.
Upon completion of the mortgage action plan, clients are connected to organizations such as Omaha 100 that help with the actual purchase of their own home. Omaha 100 is a nonprofit organization that offers affordable mortgage lending products to low- to moderate-income borrowers. With the support of First National Bank and other community partners, their loan consortium enables them to provide borrowers the opportunity to purchase new constructions homes, renovated homes, and private homes in key areas that are being revitalized. “Our mission is to provide homeownership opportunities through public and private partnerships, financing, and technical assistance enabling low-and moderate-income borrowers to own and sustain their own homes,” said Jerry Dantzler, Omaha 100 Program Director. “We provide affordable mortgage financing options to first time, and often first-generation homeowners as well as homebuyer education and down payment and closing cost assistance.”
Omaha 100 helps clients understand how much home they can afford through a preapproval process that details all the costs of getting into a home including upfront fees, down payment costs, insurance, and their monthly payments. Once approved for an Omaha 100 home loan, clients select a qualified real estate professional to find a home in their target price range. Upon finding the right home, clients work with Omaha 100 to obtain their home loan and close on their new home.
Together, FHAS and Omaha 100 are making great strides in making the American Dream a reality in the Omaha Community. FHAS educates more than 200 individuals annually, and works with many for months, or even years, to become credit-ready and able to purchase a home. Of those educated through FHAS in 2017, 117 became new homeowners through Omaha 100 and other financial institutions. Omaha 100 closed on fifty five loans, including 23 first mortgages and 32 grants and loans for down payment and closing cost assistance.
In addition to helping individuals and families purchase homes in 2017, FHAS and Omaha 100 also helped individuals become closer to economic self-sufficiency. 125 youth received 1,000 hours of financial education 74 youth received 148 hours of credit training. 637 individuals received homeownership services, 212 individuals completed homebuyer education seminars, and 24 households received foreclosure counseling.
Hear first-hand from Buffy about her journey to homeownership with the support of FHAS and Omaha 100. Watch Video.