single parent, Jeannie Miller was frustrated paying more than $600 for rent and utilities
every month. To buy a home on her income was impossible. She couldn't afford the required
Miller of Macon, Mo., was
considering the option of finding another place to rent when she learned of the Missouri
Housing Partners (MHP) program through a brochure at work. She filled out the necessary
form, and within two weeks she received information about financing a house without having
to make a down payment. Six months later, Miller and her daughter, Amity, moved into a
It's wonderful that this program is out
there, said Miller. The down payment was really holding me back. She
said her monthly house payments are less than what she was paying in rent.
Marsha Alexander is a University Extension
environmental design specialist in the west central region. She has worked with MHP since
it was formed in 1997. She said the program is one of the few of its kind in the nation.
The purpose of the program is to provide easy
access for people who are considering purchasing a house, said Alexander.
Specifically, the program provides information on home loans, down payment
assistance, mortgage refinancing, home buyer counseling and related topics.
Since the program began, it has processed more than
550 referrals from interested home buyers statewide. Alexander said research has indicated
that the biggest financial obstacle for aspiring homeownership is the lack of money for a
Today, if the home buyers know in advance
about specific packages that don't require such steep down payments, other more affordable
options can be pursued, she said. One of the most important advantages of the
program is that individuals will receive listings of Missouri lenders who are currently
participating in low down payment loans. These loans may require only a 3 or 5
percent down payment instead of the typical 20 percent.
When Miller entered the program, she had to complete
numerous forms detailing her financial capabilities, dependants and references. While
waiting for the paperwork to be approved, she began house shopping. The house she finally
picked coincidentally belonged to a woman who had bought the house through a similar
financial-assistance program. Miller said she is happy to be a homeowner.
In September of 1998, the Center for Advanced Social
Research at MU's School of Journalism conducted a survey to help evaluate the
effectiveness of the MHP program. Of the 202 individuals surveyed, 88 percent considered
the information they received to be useful. Nearly 60 percent received the information
they requested within two weeks.
The Missouri Housing Partners is a collaboration of
10 government, financial and non-profit agencies that includes University Outreach and
Extension, Missouri Housing Development Commission, Missouri Rural Opportunities Council,
USDA Rural Development and U.S. Department of HUD.
The clients who have contacted me personally
for follow-up information have all been very enthusiastic and appreciative of the
resources they have received, Alexander said. From my perspective, the MHP
partnership has opened the doors of communication and programming opportunities in so many
ways. Working together has created a much stronger product and process from which we can