Helping potential homeowners in Albany - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Helping potential homeowners in Albany

August 16, 2007

Albany - - The volatile housing market is spilling over to potential home buyers in South Georgia. The City of Albany gets money from the federal government to help people become homeowners, but some feel some of the city's incentives aren't helping as many people as it could - especially people who are disabled or on low to fixed incomes. Housing advocates say, those are the people who need help the most.

This East Albany couple is glad to have a place to call home.

"He has his own yard he can run around," says Billie Sheffey.

Their 5 year old Kevin is just as excited.

A Georgia group called We Care Alliance helped the family close on the home. They got a $20,000 grant from the state to go toward down payment and closing costs.

The city of Albany also gets dollars to make dreams like this a reality.

"We've got to put housing back in South Albany that were washed away and damaged as a result of the floods," says City Manager Al Lott.

So the city is building up a development off of Newton Road and Jefferson Street. Some work is still taking place on new homes. People who qualify can get thousands of dollars to move in. But due to the state of the housing market, housing advocates fear people on fixed incomes can not afford many of these homes - even with the city's help.

"That's a particular problem that we have to address. That's what Ms. Miller and I were talking about earlier. Were going to look at more innovative ways to provide support for people," Lott says.

Cassandra Miller works for We Care. Her group has ideas to share with the city.

"One idea might be where the city might acquire the property and then that person once approved by the bank can buy the property back from the city but right now anything to help people get in."

Another, she says is having the city refurbish existing homes and sell them at affordable rates.

We Care has a goal of making 100 to 200 people homeowners within the next two years, but they say it's going to take a working partnership with the city to make this happen.

Just a couple of years ago, it wasn't too hard to buy a home without a down payment, but housing advocates say that's almost impossible right now. That's why they say assistance programs are so important.

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