BY ASHLEY D. THOMAS
Daytonans in the market to purchase or refinance a home in the next 24 months will find a wealth of knowledge through programs coordinated by the City of Daytona Beach, churches and local businesses through April.
Emory Counts, the city’s Economic/Community Development and Fair Housing coordinator says a number of events are planned for residents in April – designated as National Fair Housing Month – who are,looking to purchase a home, refinance, seek credit counseling or discuss insurance concerns.
“Laws regarding discrimination and the Fair Housing Act will be discussed on April 17 at 1 p.m. at City Hall, Room 149 B,” Counts shared. Charles President, a HUD equal opportunity specialist from Jacksonville will lead the discussion.
An annual affair
Counts says Allen Community Development, Inc. will host the 2015 Housing Fair & Financial Wellness Clinic April 25 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Allen Chapel AME Church, 580 George W. Engram Blvd.
Counselors, representatives from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) mortgage lenders, realtors, insurance agents, home inspectors, and title companies. The public is invited to this free event where vendors will be on hand to answer questions.
“Homeowners are invited to learn about principal reduction programs,” he stated. “Homebuyers are invited to learn about lending.”
‘I want my own’
Saniyah Smith, a 30-year-old mother of three, says she will attend the fair because she is tired of renting.
“Year after year I am paying to live somewhere that will never be mine,” she told the Daytona Times.
“I’ve been renting for over a decade and when I do the math it breaks my heart. At 7 or 800 dollars a month, I have easily spent 100 grand ($100,000 dollars) since I moved out on my own at 18.
“I have three children who have been moved three times in the last six years to different apartments and to be honest I want our next move to be our last move. When they go off to college, I want them to have a real home to come back to on holidays and summer breaks. I want a yard, with a fence, and a garden and a pool and a garage.”
“I want grass to cut, I want shrubs to plant,” she continued. “I want a huge bathroom, a huge kitchen.
But most of all I want my own.”
Smith says that part of the reason that she has not begun the process of purchasing a home is because the task seems too hard to maneuver.
“I just feel overwhelmed,” she shared. “I’ve looked at first-time homebuyer programs but then I wonder if my credit is good enough, do I make enough money? What happens if the economy tanks again? I don’t want to put myself in a position where I am unable to take care of my responsibilities and with the recent housing bubble burst over the past couple of years, I’m afraid that a lender might use me.”
Those type of concerns will be answered at the housing fair, realtor Ann Yordan shared with the Times.
“Everything we could think of that someone could have questions about, we will have someone on hand to explain,” she explained. “We welcome all to come out and get as much information as possible.”
Yordan is the past president of the Daytona Beach Association of Realtors and has served on the Affordable Housing Advisory Board with the city for 22 years.
“Down payment assistance will be available and everyone is invited to receive free credit reports and credit counseling,” she added. “It is all absolutely free.”
“We’ve been having this (fair) for a number of years,” Yarbor added, stating partnerships with Fifth Third Bank, the Mid-Florida Housing Partnership, Daytona Beach Area Association of Realtors and others who will be on hand.
“We have close to 30 tables,” she continued.
“I’m reminded of a quote,” she closed. “I always tell people that owning a home is one of your biggest investments, ‘providing peace of mind for your piece of the American dream.’”
Yordon, along with Central Florida Legal Services, will be recognized as fair housing advocates, on April 17 at City Hall at 4 p.m.
The City of Daytona Beach will be sponsoring up to 15 persons to go to the regional fair housing summit at the Orlando Marriot, 8701 World Center Drive Orlando.
Contact Emory Counts at 386-671-8246 for more information.