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Q: What housing resources are available for low-to-moderate income, female headed families?
A: One of the greatest needs for female-headed households is affordable and decent housing. One may fall into one of three categories: homelessness, rental assistance or homeownership. A great resource would be the Tennessee Housing and Development Agency website http://www.thda.org/ which provides help in all three categories.
The Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program http://www.thda.org/commpros/hprp/hprpcover.html provides housing stability services in Tennessee communities, primarily households of low and moderate income in rental housing. These dollars help the homeless and to prevent homelessness. The Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency administers the HPRP program for Nashville.
Finding affordable housing with limited income is a challenge in a tough economy. In Nashville, the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency has four contemporary housing developments (Vine Hill, Preston Taylor, Sam Levy, and John Henry Hale) that have recently been built to provide modern and affordable housing. These new apartments and duplexes have wood grain floors and washer-dryer connections that are state of the art. More information can be obtained at the MDHA website http://www.nashville-mdha.org/communities.php.
There are generally three barriers preventing individuals from purchasing a house: Credit, Debt-to-income ratio, and Down-payment/Closing costs.
For individuals needing help with down-payment and closing costs toward homeownership, check out the First-time homebuyers’ link and consider the Great Start program http://www.thda.org/singlefamily/dpchoices.html. For those who qualify, it provides grant dollars toward the purchase of a house for 1st time homeowners. In this buyer’s market, one should negotiate the seller paying closing costs which will allow 4 percent of the cost of the house to go toward your down-payment.
Q: Where can I find help with my credit and money management?
A: There are several agencies in Middle Tennessee that assist women (and men) with money management problems such as http://dominionfinancial.org/home0.aspx. People are overwhelmed with debt management and debt settlement agencies that generally charge a fee for help. In the Nashville area, Christian Community Services, Inc. (CCSI) is a faith-based, non-profit that provides a free financial literacy program called Basic Financial Training to assist with money management, credit analysis, budgeting and homeownership issues. You can take the 8 hour training in four evenings or two Saturday mornings. Childcare is provided. They also provide a self-sufficiency program called Mentoring Toward Independence which helps families transition from public assistance programs to independent lifestyles. One unique component is the Individual Development Accounts which match IDA savings to a combine total of $5,000. These programs serve 90% women. Check out the website at www.ccsinashville.org.