A new decade has arrived and we at NeighborWorks Waco are working hard to make housing more affordable for our low and moderate income families.  The past few years have seen housing prices escalate to amounts that have become too much for lower income families to afford.  

Higher housing subsidies have always been one of the answers to the affordability dilemma, but subsidies are very few and difficult to obtain in a wholesale manner.  Obtaining a “fixer-upper” type of property has been a popular answer to affordability issues in the past, but most families are not prepared to purchase one of these and spend years investing cash into their property to make it safe, energy efficient, and livable.  Most of our families would rather use their time and their money to work hard, have quality family time, and not have to worry about housing repairs and improvements. 

Saving for the down payment on a home has always been very commendable, but we have seen that the longer you wait to make that first home purchase, the prices escalate at a rate much higher than one is able to save.  So, it really makes sense to purchase your first home when you can get your credit in shape, so that you will qualify for the best mortgage programs available in our market with a relatively small down payment.  That way your home will be increasing in value along with the rest of the market. 

While families are getting their finances in shape to make that first purchase, we want them to have an excellent leasing experience.  Our 90 single-family rental homes are essentially “incubators” in which families can live while preparing for homeownership.  Our tenants’ performance while renting allows us to see who might be ready to make the move into homeownership, and we certainly encourage them to make that move when they are ready. 

As we discussed in our recent Annual Report, we are now bringing a 27-lot duplex subdivision online over the coming 12 months. Belmont Village’s 54 duplex units will consist of all 2-bedroom, 2-bath homes with fenced yards–all of the driveways and yards fully maintained by NeighborWorks Waco’s property maintenance department.  The development will include common areas that will be suitable for recreation and relaxation.  We are anticipating that these units will rent in the $1,000 per month range.  

Where do we go from here with housing affordability?  We want to be on the cutting edge of this topic as we move forward.  We feel that safe and affordable housing options should always be at the forefront of what we do. Stay tuned as we develop more programs to allow this to happen!