Utica, N.Y.—The HomeOwnership Center based in Utica received a grant of $245,000 from the non profit NeighborWorks America they were one of 16 community development organizations in New York to receive money.
“So the importance of funding from NeighborWorks is that it isn’t restricted,” Danielle Smith CEO of The HomeOwnership Center explained. “It’s unrestricted funding, so we can pivot in times like this, with COVID we were able to pivot and not lay anyone off and we were able to take on rental and mortgage assisted grants here in the City of Utica.”
NeighborWorks America gave flexible grants to 239 of their affiliated organizations across the country, and with this money the HomeOwnership Center is able to concentrate on their two COVID related programs.
“If you had a COVID hardship, you lost income, you had an increase in expenses, child care that you normally wouldn’t have because your kids would have been in school, so therefore you had a hard time paying your rent or your mortgage you can apply with us,” Smith said. “You have to show a COVID related hardship and then you have to fill out our applications and submit certain income documentations but as long as you qualify we can pay three months of past due rent or up to six months of past due mortgage.”
The HomeOwnership Center offers a variety of programs, like homebuyer education classes, financial coaching, foreclosure prevention, reverse mortgage education, down payment/closing cost loans, home improvement loans, property evaluations, new and rehabilitation construction, and empowerment education.
“Whether it’s the City of Utica, we touch Oneida County, Herkimer County, Madison County and some in Fulton and Montgomery,” Smith explained. “We do homebuyer education classes, so basically we always joke that you wouldn’t jump out of an airplane without of a parachute right? But so many people jump into buying their first home without the education of what it all entails and what being a homeowner is. so we do classes on that.”