VOL. 128 | NO. 166 | Monday, August 26, 2013
United Housing Places 3,000th Homeowner
By Jennifer Johnson Backer
Lisa Brice was living in a Memphis-area townhouse with her two teenage daughters when the water was turned off in the community back in January.
Lisa Brice, left, with United Housing’s Tim Bolding, became the organization’s 3,000th homeowner.
Before that, Brice had dealt with a leaky roof and water that was erratically turned off and on.
“We had enough leaks to fill a swimming pool,” said Brice, who had purchased the townhouse about seven years ago. After the water was turned off, the community was condemned – leaving Brice with few options to sell her townhouse.
Brice and her two daughters made daily visits to her mother’s home, where they showered and had access to running water. In the meantime, Brice, a disabled veteran and retired Internal Revenue Service employee, began searching for a new home.
With help from a Realtor, she fell in love with a newly rehabbed home in Frayser that she thought might fit in her budget.
It turned out the four-bedroom, two-bathroom home had been rehabbed by United Housing Inc., a nonprofit affordable-housing agency that helps families in the city of Memphis, Shelby County and throughout West Tennessee. The agency reported a $52 million economic impact on the local housing market during its 2013 fiscal year.
The agency helps both first-time and recurring homebuyers purchase homes, and provides free homebuyer and foreclosure prevention education.
By late spring, Brice had been referred to a free United Housing homebuyer education course, where she also learned she was eligible for grant funding to help cover her down payment and closing costs.
With the help of United Housing, she received $27,000 in grants through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and the Memphis-Shelby County Helping Homebuyers Program. She closed on the $47,000 home in June.
Brice’s home purchase also marked a very personal milestone for United Housing. She was the agency’s 3,000th customer.
In fiscal 2013, United Housing Inc. – a nonprofit affordable-housing agency that helps families in the city of Memphis, Shelby County and throughout West Tennessee – helped 284 families purchase a home, while saving 257 homes from foreclosure. The homes purchased or saved from foreclosure through United Housing’s help are shown on this map.
“Every room is beautiful,” Brice said. “I don’t mind cleaning this house up – I want to do it to make sure it shines. It’s been amazing.”
Brice said the homebuyer education course also helped her work through the complex mortgage application process.
“They really broke it down and explained what every single page is for,” she said. “I thought that was the most fascinating part.”
In fiscal 2013, United Housing says the agency counseled 1,076 area individuals and families. The organization also assisted 284 families purchase a home, while helping save 257 homes from foreclosure.
“While it’s clear that we were able to make a significant difference over the last year, we still have a lot of work ahead of us,” said Tim Bolding, executive director of United Housing. “Our team is solely focused on helping families in our community become financially stable.”
Bolding said United Housing’s homebuyer education classes are free and available to all local residents free of charge.
“Word of mouth is our most common referral,” he said. “The homebuyer education course is an A to Z about everything you’d want to know about being a homebuyer, from knowing how much you can afford to what your credit looks like.”
Homebuyers like Brice who receive grant assistance or who purchase United Housing homes also attend the homebuyer education courses.
“Lisa’s story reminds us of why we do what we do,” Bolding said.
Brice says she still can’t believe how everything worked out. She also loves the neighborhood.
“I give thanks every morning,” she said. “It’s an amazing place with these amazing people.”