March 20, 2019 is a date that first-time homebuyer, Cindy, will always remember. It is on that day Cindy finalized the purchase of the family owned property that she had been calling home for more than a decade.
“I was renting the house from my parents”, shares Cindy, “When my dad’s health began to decline my parents had no choice but to put the house I was living in, plus one other house, up for sale.”
Having lived in the small, rural Otoe County community all her life, Cindy knew that buying the home was something that she wanted to do even though her current financial situation was going to make getting a conventional mortgage loan almost impossible. Cindy has worked as a hair dresser in neighboring Nebraska City for more than 30 years and because she works on commission, her income has always fluctuated. To help complicate her financial situation, Cindy, a shoulder cancer survivor, is limited on the amount of time she can work at the salon, which is typically three days a week.
Knowing that she needed to start somewhere, Cindy made an appointment at the local USDA Rural Development Office to see if they might be able to help her or at least guide her in the right direction. Upon review of Cindy’s information, USDA referred her to Southeast Nebraska Community Action Partnership (SENCA). Unfortunately, Cindy was going through a life-change situation at the time and it took several years before she was able to make the connection with SENCA and apply for assistance.
In 2018 Cindy completed the application for SENCA’s Down Payment Assistance (DPA) with Rehab. Cindy was informed by Rosanna Glathar, Housing Program Manager, since she was a first-time home buyer applying for assistance she was required to complete the agency’s Homebuyer Education program. Cindy signed-up and completed the online program. “While not everything in the program pertained to me”, shared Cindy “I think Homebuyer Education is very beneficial for first-time homebuyers who are starting out at square one.”
Upon meeting all of the program requirements, Cindy was approved for SENCA’s Down Payment Assistance with Rehab program. In addition to the down payment assistance she received from SENCA, Cindy was also awarded a grant from First Down Nebraska to help meet the USDA down payment requirements of her mortgage loan. In addition, Cindy received rehab funding, in the form of a grant, which does not have to be repaid as long as she lives in the home ten years. This funding provided a much needed energy efficient furnace and air conditioner along with new energy efficient windows and doors for her home.
“Rosanna and SENCA were both wonderful to work with, comments Cindy, “I continue to share my story with others who I feel have a need and would benefit from these types of services.”
Since 2005, SENCA’s Down Payment Assistance with Rehab program has assisted more than 73 first-time homebuyers with the purchase of a home throughout Cass, Johnson, Nemaha, Otoe, Pawnee, Richardson, and Sarpy counties. Program funding has also supported more than 45 full-time job opportunities and generated various financial benefits of approximately $5.9 million. The program has produced both long-term and one-time benefits resulting in a 4 to 1 return on investment. The success of previous and current projects has allowed SENCA to assist in making home ownership affordable to first-time homebuyers such as Cindy, as well as provide rehab services to more than 92% of the houses, ultimately improving the health, safety, and affordability of these southeast Nebraska homes.