VOL. 129 | NO. 227 | Thursday, November 20, 2014
Home for the Holidays
By Amos Maki
Jasmine Morris, center, has realized her long-awaited dream of home ownership with the help of United Housing Inc. Morris recently became the 4,000th homebuyer for the organization to assist.
(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)
Jasmine Morris, a 27-year-old Memphis native, had been renting while trying to raise her daughter, but she always longed to follow her dream of owning a home.
That long-awaited dream is finally becoming a reality.
After completing United Housing Inc.’s homebuyer assistance program, Morris and her children, Bryson and Kennedie, will soon move into their own home. She closed on the purchase of a $79,000 house in Raleigh last week
“That makes me feel really happy, satisfied,” said Morris, who works as a veterinary technician at the Animal Emergency Center on Summer Avenue. “The thought of it being my own home is much nicer.
“I feel like I’m providing my children with something that’s theirs, and as a parent, that’s something I felt like I needed to do. It’s also setting an example, showing them that if you want something bad enough and work for it then you can have it.”
Morris is the 4,000th customer the nonprofit United Housing organization has placed in a home.
Founded in 1994 as an affiliate of the United Way of the Mid-South, United Housing offers several outreach programs that have helped 4,000 families, including Morris’, own a home and have rehabilitated dozens of formerly vacant houses.
The agency helps both first-time and recurring homebuyers purchase houses and provides free homebuyer and foreclosure-prevention education.
During its 2014 fiscal year, United Housing sold 30 homes, helped 270 families save their homes through its Hardest Hit Fund program, assisted 142 families with down payment and closing costs, and helped 235 families purchase a home. The organization’s total economic impact on the area was $115 million, which includes leveraged first mortgage loans, sales price and home values, Realtor commissions and mortgages saved.
Morris wasn’t sure she’d qualify for a home, but after contacting United Housing and participating in the organization’s homebuyer training program, she discovered she was eligible.
“When I first decided to see if I could get approved for a home, I didn’t think I could,” said Morris. “Then when I took the course, it really became real to me. I was actually going to be able to buy a house and it was going to be mine.”
Morris approached Tina Talarico, loan officer with Community Mortgage, to talk about financing. Talarico helped secure a $14,199 neighborhood stabilization grant through Shelby County, funds that can be used for down payment and closing costs.
“This business is a very rewarding business to me because we get to help people buy homes,” said Talarico, whose firm has worked with United Housing for 20 years.
The home Morris purchased was renovated with the help of Grace-St. Luke’s Episcopal Church as part of the GraceBuilders program, which pursues meaningful building projects in the community as part of the Midtown church’s community outreach efforts. Over a period of weeks, church volunteers ripped out old appliances, tore away dated wallpaper, landscaped the yard and made the dog-eared property a home fit for a family.
When Morris took her 7-year-old daughter, Kennedie, for a tour of the home, the little girl was so excited she began packing immediately.
“She was so excited she came home and started putting her dolls in plastic Kroger bags to help me pack,” said Morris through bouts of laughter.
Morris hopes she can move in time to celebrate Thanksgiving at her family’s new home.
“It’s been such a satisfying feeling for me,” she said. “I have to pinch myself because it’s been such a blessing.”