Groups offer first-time homebuying help

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 2, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212;The AJFC Community Action Agency just received hundreds of thousands of dollars &8212; and depending on your income and credit rating, if you&8217;re looking to own your first home, you just might benefit.

Meanwhile, an organization in Concordia Parish is also about to start a housing down payment assistance program in that area.

Natchez aldermen voted Tuesday to allow the agency to use $168,000 remaining from money it received from the Mississippi Development Authority more than three years ago.

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The money was to be used to fund down payment assistance for first-time homebuyers with low to moderate incomes.

&8220;There&8217;s been little activity&8221; in recent months, City Planner Andrew Smith said,

referring to down payment assistance loans made from the account.

And when it comes to the deadline for using the funds, he added, the city &8220;has already asked for three extensions.&8221;

The longer the city goes without depleting those funds, the lower it will rate when asking the MDA for such funds in the future, Smith noted.

Meanwhile, AJFC has people already qualified for such down payment loans &8212; which amount to up to 20 percent of a home&8217;s purchase price.

&8220;They would like to use it for down payments for those qualified persons in the next six to eight months, and that will allow us to close out that project,&8221; Smith said.

But while some have already qualified, others can also fill out applications for the program at the AJFC office, said Fannie Brown, affordable housing program coordinator for the agency.

&8220;The first thing we have to do is make sure they have credit good enough to qualify for a mortgage,&8221; Brown said.

Brown said she still has to meet with MDA representatives to discuss what other qualifications and deadlines apply.

Brown&8217;s office is located in the old Sadie V. Thompson High School complex at 1038 N. Union St., Building A.

Meanwhile, an official with the Macon Ridge Community Development Corp. office in Ferriday said that agency is about to start a down payment assistance program.

Money to start the program for lower-income people would come from the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency, with Hibernia National Bank as the local lending agency.

&8220;They&8217;re working out the details (of qualification criteria) &8212; they met last week,&8221; said Windell Millicks, vice president of housing for Macon Ridge CDC.

&8220;If we can work it out, we have 12 families&8221; in line for the program, Millicks said.