Monday, September 6, 2010

First-time homebuyers get a break in Chandler

It has been more than a year since Ron Baldenegro got involved with Chandler's First Time Homebuyer's Program.

In that time, he has addressed some credit issues, gone through financial and homeowners counseling and dealt with a real-estate agent to find a house. But it will all be worth it to have a home with a yard where his grandkids can play.

"I need to get out of the apartment," Baldenegro said. "I have my daughter and grandkids living with me. I wanted to have some place where the grandkids could run in the backyard and play. You can't really do that in an apartment complex."

Since the program began in early 2009, 11 homes that were empty are now filled, and the program could result in as many as 30 families buying homes. While that's not a huge number in light of the glut of vacancies created by the economic and housing crisis, it's significant to the neighborhoods where those homes are located.

Chandler's First Time Homebuyer's Program uses federal money to purchase and rehabilitate empty homes and sell them to qualified buyers. The city works in partnership with Newtown Community Development Corp., a non-profit organization that administers the program and operates the land trust that helps keep the homes affordable.

Chandler Neighborhood Resources Director Jennifer Morrison said the partnership with Newtown has made the program work for the city.

In addition to preparing the potential homeowners to buy, Newtown maintains a relationship with them after they move in to make sure the properties are being maintained and the families are adjusting to the responsibility of home ownership.

"It's not the kind of program where you help somebody buy a house and it's finished," Morrison said. "It's an ongoing relationship with a client so they can become an active member of their community and everybody benefits. It's such a great match for Chandler."

Baldenegro praised the program and the way it's administered.

"They went through all the steps one by one as far as starting at the orientation meeting and hooking you up with someone to help you," Baldenegro said. "I had some things to clean up, as far as my credit goes, but they helped me all along the way to get me to where I am at right now to be able to purchase this house."

Baldenegro and his family are looking at moving into their home near McQueen and Frye roads in October or November. He has secured a loan for the house - Newtown holds the land the homes sit on in a trust so the buyer only has to pay for the structure - and it is being rehabilitated. All homes purchased through the program undergo some work to make sure the homeowner starts with a clean slate.

"It didn't look like it needed a whole lot of work to me," Baldenegro said. "But they don't want the people moving into the house to have any problems with it. It's in a great neighborhood and it's not too far from work. I'm very excited. This will be my first house."

by Weldon B. Johnson The Arizona Republic Aug. 30, 2010 12:00 AM

First-time homebuyers get a break in Chandler

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