EducateIcon“To assist the community in helping impoverished persons replace the destructive effects of poverty and homelessness with positive, supportive and transformative services designed to promote self-leadership, hope and well-being while transitioning into safe, decent and affordable permanent housing.”

A recent study by the Urban Institute has pointed out that the economic recession of the past five years did not effect all racial groups in America equally. More specifically, it increased the ever-growing wealth gap in this country. Key to this racial wealth gap is the disparity in home ownership. Since a home is often the single most valuable asset of minority families, the high foreclosure rates disproportionately impacted them. Moreover, the lack of cash reserves meant they were unable to take advantage of lower-than-normal home values. The result is a widening gap in what racial groups are able to pass on to future generations, furthering economic inequality for decades to come. If this trend is ever to be reversed, minority as well as low income groups home ownership must be facilitated by organizations in a position to support those groups for which owning their own home may not be a current priority. Without community investment through an increased percentage of homeownership in these communities, the social economic structure suffers causing a lack of commercial interest and investment.

Having sat on the HANDS board I have had the privilege of learning a lot about community development. During a fruitful meeting with our mayor, He revealed the continued struggle that he has had convincing Hospitality and Retail concerning Southeast Fort Wayne. To convince them to come into this community and do business, some strategic social and economic developments must first happen. In our discussion we both agreed that increasing homeownership would play a major role in encouraging these entities to do business in the southeast community. Of course JH would have to consider more than just homeownership but also the building of the community residents themselves and therefore we would need to produce a kind of One Stop Shop that would greatly assist this cause offering services that would bridge that gap. Empowering the citizens LIVE (Learn; Invest; Value; Expect) through training and offering supportive services that evolves out of it’s Life Management Model (The 6 T’s) that would not only give the less fortunate safe, decent affordable housing and a retail district but also birth new and support existing business owners, entrepreneurs and community stakeholders. This concept is called The Joshua’s Hand Housing and Life Development Resource Center.

The JHHLDC, a division of Joshua’s Hand assists in the development of housing and related infrastructure specifically designed to meet the physical, psychological, recreational, and social needs of very-low, low and moderate income individuals (80% AMI and below) and families to engage in any activities related to promoting interest and support for such housing. From transformative thinking and living to saving that first dollar to finding the right loan product to maintaining property and finally community investment, the Housing Resource Center walks client through the process of buying, owning a home and become a community stakeholder.

There are a number of different yet related program initiatives carried out by the HRC that are aimed at informing clients of the resources open to them. Since JH CHDO is operated in partnership with the City of Fort Wayne, one of the primary objectives is to make homebuyers and homeowners aware of the many resources available to them through public programs and projects. This includes but is not limited to grants for down payment assistance, home repair funds, and closing cost grants. While JHHRCC will offer a wide array of programs, the core of what we do will center on the importance of consumer education. Thus, we plan to provide a vast assortment of homebuyer and homeowner classes and workshops, in addition to the other important neighborhood and community awareness projects. The following is a brief overview of just a few of our classes:
Home Buying and Pre-Ownership Orientation
The core element of this workshop is to remove perceived barriers and open the doors of homeownership to families who might think it is impossible. Participants learn what to expect during the process of making their first-home purchase and how the Housing Resource Center can assist them through the process of becoming a homeowner. To expose them to the 6 influences that are constantly working against their progress making homeownership and Life Management seem impossible. We will then offer them training in 6 skills that would almost guarantee a 30-50% viability (hope) of a well managed life that will set the stage for homeownership and more.
Pre-purchase Assessment
Here we assess the client’s readiness to buy, including their financial capacity and eligibility for first-time homebuyers and down-payment assistance programs. Credit Reports are pulled and financial profiles analyzed. If financial obstacles or barriers are identified, then a homebuyer action plan is created with recommendations to register for the financial education class, Finance 101, or move to the Homebuyer Education Workshop.

Finance 101
This class is designed to teach the fundamentals of personal finance. Instructors cover topics such as maintaining a family spending plan, using checking, debit and credit cards wisely, understanding consumer rights, creating a savings account, establishing and maintaining good credit and becoming ready to apply for a loan and make informed financial decisions.
Credit Education/Debt Management and Budget Counseling
It will be recommended for some clients after Finance 101 that they take this course in credit and debt management. For some, this course will begin the process of CREDIT REPAIR. For other it will show them how to establish healthy financial practices to ensure that they are able to stay in a home once they make their purchase. We show them in a one-on-one setting how to establish a spending plan, understand their credit score, address damaged credit, read credit reports, and how to work with credit agencies as well as how to establish a systematic payment plan and manage debt. Counseling is not limited to first-time homeowners; renters and current homeowners may access this valuable service too. Counseling will be available in both Spanish and English.
Homebuyer Education Workshops
This capstone course outlines the purchasing steps and requirements. Clients will also learn importance of home inspections, how to select the best loan for them, as well as the ins and outs of homeowners insurance. Upon completion, clients will receive a certificate which verifies their basic competence as a potential homebuyer.