NeighborWorks Week Highlights Homeownership

Hundreds At Homeport Eligible Soon To Convert From Renter Status

Two years have passed, but Framingham Village resident Stacy Jackson still beams over the moment she converted from renter to homeowner without having to move.

“It was exciting. It really was -- just every step leading to the signing of the papers. It was the most exciting experience in my life,” said Jackson.

Over the next five years, approximately 300 families in Central Ohio could enjoy the same satisfaction that Jackson is experiencing when they become eligible to purchase homes they are currently leasing from Homeport.

“Not everyone is ready for homeownership. But our vision is for every person to be empowered to dream and shape their futures. Lease option homes help us realize that vision,” said Ilsa Beyl, Homeport’s Interim Director of Asset Management.

As part of the process of making Homeport residents aware of their options, the organization has pulled together area lenders to explain mortgage options. The opportunity will be 6 to 8 p.m. on June 10 at the Community Center inside Framingham Village, 3333 Deserette Lane.

The lender gathering is part of a week of activities celebrating NeighborWorks America, a national organization committed to affordable housing and community development.  Homeport is a charter member. June is also National Homeownership Month.

The week of activities include:

--  Monday morning, June 8, Homeport staff and CASTO Communities volunteers paint fences at Framingham; U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty will speak.

--  Tuesday June 9, Homeport staff will host Homebuyer Education classes throughout the day at its new headquarters, 3443 Agler Road.

--  Wednesday, June 10, lenders convene 6 to 8 p.m. at Framingham; Homeport staff will also offer a Healthy Homes workshop  from 7 to 8 p.m. that covers a variety of topics including pest control, fire safety, asthma control, and healthy home cleaners.

--  Thursday, June 11, Homeport hosts Donor Appreciation Night, an evening of Columbus Clippers baseball at Huntington Park.

--  Saturday, June 13, Homeport holds free Homebuyer Education and Financial Fitness courses at its Agler Road office.

Eight families in Homeport’s Framingham Village community in northeast Columbus have purchased homes since becoming eligible to convert from a renter in 2013. Another 14 could choose to move ahead if they want to this year. In 2016, 39 families in Greater Linden Homes could purchase their homes.  They will be followed by:

  • 33 in Kingsford Homes and 39 in Southeast Columbus Homes in 2017;
  • 31 in Joyce Avenue Homes and 32 in Mariemont Homes in 2018;
  • 32 in Southside Homes and 32 in Fairview Homes in 2019;
  • 24 in Mapleside Homes and 32 in Levelgreen Homes in 2020

The rules for residents in lease-option homes built for Homeport are the same, said Homeport’s Beyl.

“All of our lease option homes are single family three or four bedroom homes. Due to government restrictions, the property is rented for 15 years. At the end of the 15 years, the residents are eligible to purchase their homes.

“At purchase, Homeport will replace the roof, furnace and water heater to minimize the large capital repairs the new homebuyer will experience in the first 5 years of ownership. The purchase price is sized so that the homebuyer will pay no more for their mortgage than their current rent.

“Most of the rents are approximately 20 percent below market. We have some homes that are more deeply affordable, in some cases more than 50 percent below market,” Beyl said.

Homeport has more than 2,200 rental apartments and homes, of which 451 are lease-option homes. The houses were built with a combination of development subsidies and financing sources, including Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Federal HOME Loan Funding, conventional private bank financing and other sources.  As a result of the financing, the rental homes were made available at below market rents. 

“We see rental properties as an essential part of the fabric needed for a healthy community. Lease option homes provide stable housing for our residents and our communities. At our lease option properties in service for 12 years or longer, our average resident remains in their homes for over seven years, a far longer residency than the average renter,” Beyl said.

Jackson, the Framingham Village resident, and a sales person at Sam’s Club, credits the homebuyer education courses, offered for free by Homeport, for providing the added confidence to move ahead after renting 12 years.

Homeownership was a breakthrough for her extended family and provided added stability for herself and her daughter, Kyesha, a full-time college student who lives with her, Jackson said.

“Being the youngest person in my family, and the only one to own a home, it was exciting,” Jackson said. “It takes time and patience. Homeport is a big part of it and they will help. Just take a deep breath. If something goes wrong, you can turn it around.”