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News Release    

June 4, 2008      

For Further Information Contact:
William R. Steinhaus, County Executive
(845) 486-2000

NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center of Dutchess County Helps First Time Homebuyers
Programs Also Assist Current Homeowners Avoid Foreclosure

Poughkeepsie… At the Town of Poughkeepsie home of proud first-time homebuyers, Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus joined with Gail Webster, Executive Director of Hudson River Housing and Andrea Reynolds, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Dutchess County to announce a new funding partnership to promote and expand the service capability of Hudson River Housing’s NeighborWorks HomeOwnership of Dutchess County.

“The NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center of Dutchess County offers residents a chance to fulfill the American dream with the purchase of their first home in Dutchess County,” said County Executive Steinhaus.   “Navigating the complicated process of making a first-time real estate purchase or dealing with the possibility of foreclosure can be overwhelming, stressful and intimidating.    We believe residents of all income levels and backgrounds can benefit from this important service.”

NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center of Dutchess County (NHC-DC) is a division of Hudson River Housing and serves as a one-stop shop to provide all of the services and training customers need to shop for, purchase, rehabilitate, insure and maintain a home.  There are no eligibility requirements to take advantage of the services offered by the NHC-DC.

Hudson River Housing Executive Director Gail Webster said, “We believe decent and affordable housing should be available to everyone.   We created the NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center of Dutchess County to help people become successful first-time buyers and provide the resources necessary to maintain that housing. The help from County Executive Steinhaus along with the Community Foundation will allow us to expand this service to help people provide a stable, secure future for their families by providing support, education and confidence.”

Some of the educational programs offered through NHC-DC include:

  • First time homebuyers’ education and support programs to assist homebuyers overcome barriers to, and become prepared for, homeownership.
  • Financial Literacy education and counseling designed for individuals and families who need help increasing their credit score to pre-qualify for a mortgage and are in need of assistance in budgeting their expenses to pay down debts and/or begin saving for a down payment on a home.
  • Post-Purchase Education
    Courses are offered to help first-time homebuyers who have recently purchased a home and focus on the "nuts and bolts" of maintaining a home. Participants are taught how to perform some basic maintenance and repair functions in and around the house. The course also covers the "dollars and sense" aspects of maintaining the investment, including re-adjusting budgets, refinance options and how to plan future home improvement projects.
  • Foreclosure Prevention Counseling
    One-on-one service offered to any homeowner who would like help in managing their mortgage payments. Counseling services include evaluating budgets and priorities, and exploring options to maintain financial integrity.

The NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center of Dutchess County reported some impressive statistics for 2007 including:

  • Assisted 65 households obtain their first home in 2007.
  • $11,733,807 first mortgages were generated by NHC-DC homebuyers in 2007.
  • NHC-DC facilitated $1,237,508 in down payment and closing cost assistance grants in 2007.
  • 0% of households who have participated in NHC-DC pre-purchase education & counseling are known to have faced foreclosure.
  • 0% of households currently receiving NHC-DC foreclosure prevention counseling participated in pre-purchase education & counseling.
  • 32.1% is the average amount of monthly income NHC-DC 2007 homebuyers spend on their mortgage payment (principal, interest, taxes & insurance).
  • 67.8% is the average amount of monthly income NHC-DC foreclosure prevention customers, who cannot afford to stay in their home, spend on their mortgage payment (principal, interest, taxes & insurance).

Steinhaus has previously directed financial support of over $32,000 to the NHC-DC through the county’s Community Development Block Grant Program.    Recently, Mary Linge, Director of Home Ownership & Education for NHC-DC was invited by Steinhaus to speak at the County Executive’s monthly executive department head meeting to discuss the programs and services available through NHC-DC.    Determined to build on the programs’ success, County Executive Steinhaus directed Robert Allers, Commissioner of Social Services, Roger Akeley Commissioner of Planning & Development, and Betsy Brockway, Health & Human Services Director to determine how to expand County Government’s support of the NHC-DC and facilitate community partnerships to help increase public awareness about the important services being offered, both for people purchasing a home as well as those who may be faced with losing their home to foreclosure.

Dutchess County Government has partnered with the Community Foundation of Dutchess to provide nearly $100,000, in one-time seed money to hire an additional counselor to provide education to first time homebuyers, households in foreclosure and households seeking reverse mortgages.  The funding will also be used to launch a public awareness information campaign to inform residents about the services and programs available through NHC-DC.  

Andrea Reynolds, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Dutchess County said, “The NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center of Dutchess County is providing an invaluable resource to our community by helping people improve their quality of life whether it is through the purchase of their first home or helping them avoid losing their current home. We are committed to partnering with others like County Executive Steinhaus and community groups like Hudson River Housing to help meet emerging community needs.”

Abul Hoque and Jusna Jahan are just one example of the success stories from the NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center.    The couple began working with the Home Buyer Education Programs in January of 2006 and graduated from The Home Club, HRH's pre-purchase education course, in August of that year.  NeighborWorks worked closely with them to navigate the home buying process.  They closed on their families’ first home on January 26, 2007, with assistance from a $10,000 Dutchess County First Time Home Buyer Grant.  
 
Mr. Hoque encourages all prospective homebuyers to learn more about NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center programs.  "I would recommend this program to anyone buying a home.  I can't imagine going through this process without the knowledge and support we gained," he said.

Mara Kane, a first-time homebuyer who purchased her home in November 2007 said of the program: “I never thought the dream of homeownership would come true so soon. The staff at Hudson River Housing laid out a clear path to homeownership and helped me every step of the way.   The monthly training taught me how to buy a home responsibly and put me in touch with trusted industry professionals.”

Andy and Andrea French, first-time homebuyers who purchased their home in 2006 said of the program: “It feels unreal to have our own home. Being able to take advantage of the savings programs, counseling, and education classes were a big factor in making this dream possible for us. We don’t know how anyone could buy a house without these classes offered through the Home Ownership Center of Dutchess County. They provided us with all the information we needed so we were equipped as we went through the process of buying our home.”

A Town of Wappinger homeowner who is working with NHC-DC staff to prevent foreclosure had this to say about the counseling programs, "I wish I had known about this program before I bought my house.  I never would have signed on for this loan, I just didn't understand what I was getting into at the time." 

 “Buying a home is the single biggest purchase in most people’s lives. Working with NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center of Dutchess County puts people on track to make the right decisions to purchase and successfully keep their home for their families to live and grow,” concluded County Executive Steinhaus.

The NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center of Dutchess County is located at 291 Mill Street in Poughkeepsie. For more information, visit their website at http://www.hudsonriverhousing.org/.



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