WREM Literacy Group, Inc.
WREM started an initiative to address the shortage of quality housing as well as the issue of ownership vs. renting, affordability, aged housing stock, and comps throughout rural areas of Texas. The initiative, Home Sweet Homeownership (HSH), answers the call for housing relief throughout the State. Census data analyzed for Prairie View and Hempstead depict a severe housing shortage. Therefore, to test the strength of this initiative, these communities in Waller County were chosen to pilot the program.
The initiative HSH can provide a mortgage for less than the price of rent. Under its program, the average mortgage, PITI inclusive, is less than $575 monthly at 0% interest for 30 years fixed. HSH makes homeownership affordable. Because the program is funded with grant dollars, it is not required that the applicant is creditworthy; however, the applicant will have to meet a debt to income test. If the applicant's debt is within the boundaries of the front-end and back-end ratios, and they can be income qualified, a home will be built for them to purchase. All mortgages are fixed for 30 years, with an interest rate that falls between 0 and 5%.
To qualify, the applicant must attend classes to obtain a mandatory Homebuyer Counseling Certificate. In addition, they must participate in a Financial Literacy class, and attend training on housing maintenance. Credit repair and budgeting are an essential part of the Financial Literacy training.
Home Sweet Homeownership enables opportunity for decent and affordable housing among rural low-income renters and homesteaders. It is the only project of its kind in Waller County. In the entire State of Texas, there is no other provider of affordable housing in rural communities implementing HSH’s strategy.
A $2.3 Million endeavor, the pilot effort is a 3 year endeavor that is strategically designed to use new construction in ameliorating housing disparity for low-income residents of Prairie View and Hempstead. Under this creative pilot, 22 homes will be built: 14 for first-time homebuyers and 8 for existing homeowners with need.
The goal of HSH is fourfold:
1) bring the capability for homeownership into reach
of the low-income homebuyer;
2) provide opportunity for the existing homeowner to
afford decent housing and sustain homeownership;
3) introduce the importance of Financial Literacy as it
wages war on generational poverty; and
4) create sales comps for HSH’s future developments.
HSH focuses on providing secure housing equally for anyone who can be income qualified. The 22 homes built under HSH utilize Green technology. Each home is all electric, energy-efficient and low-maintenance. An appliance package is provided for each home that includes energy saving features: range oven, dishwasher, vent-a-hood, and refrigerator.
The homes under this pilot are scheduled to be completed by December 2015. Commencing January 2016, the next round of providing decent and affordable housing will begin. The rural venue in Texas is not known at this time. However, housing will continually be provided in the Hempstead and Prairie View area as well. Applications for either a new home or demolition to reconstruct an existing home will begin in October 2015. Applications will be available on this website in early October.