Have you long dreamed about purchasing your own home but believed that such hopes were well beyond the realm of possibility? Have your concerns included coming up with the required down payment and closing costs? Have you fretted over the amount of the mortgage insurance and other fees? Do you believe your credit score is too low for you to have a chance to be approved for a loan? Does the current fixed interest rate cause you to break out in a cold sweat?
Well, for those who live in the Newark community, there’s hope, even if your answers to the questions above have created even more fear and trepidation.
Beginning Friday, June 23, through Tuesday, June 27, those who want to take the first step to affordable homeownership are invited to attend the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America’s (NACA) “Achieve the Dream Event” for a free, four-hour workshop at the Robert Treat Hotel, 50 Park Place, Newark, New Jersey.
The workshops will be held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day and all NACA services are free, including pre-purchase counseling and assistance for homeowners.
Based in Boston, Massachusetts and established in 1988, NACA has achieved an exemplary record of successful advocacy against predatory and discriminatory lenders, while also providing the best mortgage program in America with $10 billion in funding commitments.
As the largest housing services organization in the U.S., NACA continues to expand by growing its existing 30+ offices, opening new offices nationwide, and broadening the services it offers its membership. NACA’s unprecedented mortgage program and community organizing have set the national standard for assisting low- and moderate-income people to achieve the dream of homeownership.
Testimonies from NACA’s CEO and homeowners
NACA CEO Bruce Marks and two NACA homeowners, Patricia Hobbs and Tricia Lubrano, shared their perspectives about NACA’s “America’s Best Mortgage Program” with the New Jersey Urban News.
Bruce Marks has spent more than 30 years as an activist and advocate. Making the cornerstone of the American Dream, homeownership, a reality for everyone possible has become his lifetime’s mission. He predicted and warned Congress in 2000 of the coming mortgage crisis long before anyone else. After the housing bubble burst in 2008, when the number of foreclosed homes available for investors surged, he designed and implemented the NACA Home Save Program, giving hundreds of thousands of homeowners across the country the opportunity to prevent foreclosure and restructure their unaffordable mortgages. He then launched “Save the Dream Events,” like the one scheduled for Newark, which attracted tens of thousands of anxious homeowners seeking help and which illustrated how extensive the mortgage crisis really was.
Marks cites four major roadblocks to affordable homeownership which NACA helps its members overcome:
1) The need for significant savings – NACA solution: no down payment and no closing costs.
2) Restrictive underwriting based on one’s credit score – NACA solution: character-based underwriting focusing on the homebuyer’s payments they control during the most recent 12-months. NACA never considers on credit score as it is not an accurate reflection of one’s readiness for homeownership.
3) Unaffordable terms – NACA solution: always a fixed rate fully amortizing mortgage at a below market rate.
4) Racism and bias – NACA solution: counsel the homebuyer to become NACA qualified, which results in a more desirable customer for real estate agents, sellers and lenders.
“The participation of many thousands of homebuyers to our program and events reflect our success,” Marks said. “For example, we had over 20,000 participants at our New York City Achieve the Dream event over five days. There was no outreach, marketing or media. Everyone came because they heard about NACA from family, friends, co-workers and neighbors. This is consistent with all our events. It is the best reflection of the program when people tell others that for affordable homeownership you need to go to NACA.”
Marks also expressed how partnering with the City of Newark has proven to be beneficial for Newark citizens who seek to become homeowners.
“This is truly a partnership that will set the national standard,” Marks said. “The highlights are the following:
1) Newark residents with a Section 8/Housing Choice Voucher can use it for their mortgage payment and it’s an effective means of moving people out of public assistance and generating significant wealth.
2) The City is selling vacant homes and lots to homebuyers for $1 and NACA is providing the financing for the renovation or new construction.
3) NACA will be providing new construction – factory-built modular homes that are high quality and very affordable. The purchase price will be less than $150,000 with a mortgage payment less than $1,000.
Marks said those who attend the event should come even if they do not have any or all the typically required documents because “we consider each person’s circumstances to determine what they need.”
However, he said the basics include the following: paystubs (most recent 30-day period); bank statements from the last three months; and tax returns from the last two years.
“We’re optimistic despite the current economic climate, predictions of a pending recession, and the still ongoing pandemic – absolutely,” Marks said.
“We are the best opportunity for homeownership and participation continues to increase. There is still affordable homeownership and with our partnership with Newark and others we are creating more affordable opportunities. The issues [people face] have not slowed us down in the past and will not now. Even during the pandemic, we continued to counsel people,” he said.
Patricia Hobbs, who’s known by friends and family as Taji, has owned her home since November 2022. She said her greatest challenge was overcoming a negative attitude.
“NACA made the process carefree – it was a simple, straightforward process for me because I wanted it badly,” she said. “I feel that I have broken generational curses and I view society differently now because I am a homeowner.”
“I would tell everyone to dream big because if you can see it, you can have it. Be positive in your journey and speak what you want into existence,” said Hobbs who said she could not wait to move into her home so her two beloved dogs, Izzy and Oatmeal, could have their own backyard in which to run freely.
“That was really exciting for me,” she said.
Tricia Lubrano, who has owned her home in Newark for seven months, said she worried most about the money she’d need for her down payment.
“NACA was a huge help because there’s no down payment required,” she said. “As for being a homeowner, it’s an amazing feeling. I’m relieved that I was successful and I feel like I have really accomplished something. Trying NACA was the best decision I could have made.”
“I will never forget watching my daughter get settled in her room – knowing that it was her room. Nothing can compare to the feeling of knowing your child feels comfortable and safe. That kind of special feeling is in a class of its own,” she said.
For more information about NACA, visit www.naca.com.
To register for the conference and a workshop, visit https://www.naca.com/naca-homebuyer-events-spring-summer-2023/