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Financing Your Down Payment: An Interview with Sofia S. Crisp of Guilford County Homeownership Center (GCHC)

By Sofia S Crisp

Tell us about your company and its foundation.

Guilford County Homeownership Center (GCHC) is a non-profit Housing Counseling agency, founded in 2004. I am the Founder and Executive Director. The organization was founded with the idea that comprehensive and interactive housing counseling is the best way to educate families about how to become sustainable homeowners.

Please tell us about the services your company offers.

GCHC provides various classes in our Pre-Purchase Program, tailored to where a client is in the home buying process based on their credit. Our Post-Purchase classes are designed to assist new homeowners with the different expenses they encounter and have an emphasis on home maintenance. For families in default on their mortgage, Loss Mitigation is provided on their behalf. A modification to adjust mortgage payments to a more affordable one after the clients' hardship has been cured. Finally, for families unemployed or underemployed "Building a Better You, Life Coaching." This month long class is offered to address human resources development and an awareness of opportunities.

You offer a program for people who have little to no money for the down payment of their house, what does this program entail?

The Individual Development Accounts (IDA) IDA training is a more intense program that is designed for those who can adhere to a very disciplined and consistent savings program that is restricted for a specific use. This program requires that a financial institution (bank or credit union) collaborate with Guilford County Homeownership Center and agree to set up savings accounts for participants. The saver can continue to contribute until the savings cap has been reached and the match will cease at the point when the maximum has been accomplished. Those who participate in IDA training must participate in Financial Literacy training. The two programs combined allow participants 21 weeks of access to training in preparation of owning a home. These two components include developing an emergency fund and maintaining a home, including a referral system for who and when to call for repair.

Can someone still apply for this program even if they have poor credit?

The minimum score required to participate in the IDA program is 550, as it is a 6-12 month program. For clients that have credit scores below 550, we offer classes that focus on credit repair and budgeting only. This empowers them with the tools to assess spending and learn the value of good credit.

Are there other options you know of that help clients who have a financially difficult situation, yet still have hopes of owning a home?

For clients that have credit scores below 550, we offer classes that focus on credit repair and budgeting only. This empowers them with the tools to assess spending and learn the value of good credit. After successful completion of these classes, clients are tracked at 90 day intervals, and when credit ready can apply to participate in an IDA Class.

What is the best way to contact you and your company?

Sofia S Crisp

Executive Director

Guilford County Homeownership Center

415 N Edgeworth Street, Suite 125

Greensboro, NC 27401

336.553.0946, office

336.553.0946, ext. 3, direct

sofia.crisp@gchcnc.org

gchcnc.org.

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