Help Offered For First-Time Home Buyers

CourierPostOnline — Sunday, December 11, 2005

Courier-Post Staff

CAMDEN — Inez Santiago, 27, has a dream of buying a home.

The Camden woman has two children. She is divorced and works at convenience store for $9 an hour. She pays $650 a month to rent a two-bedroom apartment in Cramer Hill.

"There's a lot of crime in and around my home. I just want a safe place for my children to live. I thought it would never happen. Now I have some hope," she said after New Jersey Citizen Action held a seminar to help first-time home buyers have a chance of owning their own home.

For Brittany Daniel of Camden, it was a similar story.

The single mother of three is a licensed practical nurse and pays $571 a month in rent.

"I never thought that I would be able to own a home, but these people will work with you to do it. They will teach you how to save and cut your bills so that you can own a home, even if it takes a year or so," Daniel said.

About 200 people, mostly women, gathered Saturday afternoon in a meeting room at the Catholic Charities office on Haddon Avenue to attend the two-hour seminar.

"As home prices are steadily rising, home ownership can appear to be further and further out of reach for many women in New Jersey. We aim to empower women and give them the guidance necessary to make home ownership a reality," said Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, executive director of New Jersey Citizen Action, who served as master of ceremonies at the seminar.

She said the program offers loan and credit counseling for prospective home buyers.

Once qualified, a person can purchase a home anywhere in the state up to the amount of the home loan for which they have qualified.

The program is for people who earn between $18,000 to $70,000 a year.

She said participants in the program can get mortgages up to 1.5 percent below the national average if they qualify through participating banks.

Michael Thurston, a case counselor with the group, also said that the grants are available to help with down payments, which average about 3 percent of the purchase price, and with closing.

"But you have to ask us about the possibility of a grant. We aren't mind readers," he said.

"The main thing is to have a budget and to stay within that budget. Buy a home that you know that you can afford," Salowe-Kaye said.


To learn more about New Jersey Citizen Action, call the group at (800) 656-9637 or visit the group's Web site at

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