Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Project Reinvest is people

The Peeler family are home owners thanks to
down payment assistance from Project Reinvest.
A current project has put me deep into data on ACFCU’s “Project Reinvest” down payment assistance program. Spending time seeing the names of 194 families who are now building wealth and creating brighter futures for themselves and their children was really gratifying. It was also great to see all the communities that benefited.

The project’s Excel data contains some impressive numbers. Since April 2017, Project Reinvest has contributed to roughly $20 million in home sales. The program has aided those 194 families with more than $2 million in down payment assistance awards ($10,500 each). Realtors, other financial institutions, mortgage title companies and other businesses have benefitted from home sales that were possible largely because of Project Reinvest.

Numbers, though, are not what Project Reinvest is primarily about. It is about the hard-working families like the Peelers who have done it right – they’ve taken homeownership education courses, their credit scores are strong and now they’ve achieved the American Dream. Without the down payment assistance and other supports ACFCU and its many great partners offered, many of these families would still be renting – and in some cases paying more in rent than they’re paying for their mortgages. It’s been a great thing all the way around.

Realtor Lauren Clemson
has enjoyed working
with participating families.
Lauren Clemson, an area Realtor, developed a special bond with her Project Reinvest clients. “Each person I’ve dealt with has overcome a struggle to get where they are and they’ve worked their way up,” Clemson said. “They’re very proud and very careful with their money.”

Clemson helped one single mom who was working two jobs. When that woman bought her house, she told a friend who also works two jobs and is raising kids on her own. Now the two are neighbors and home owners. “They’re just thankful that someone believed enough in them to offer them this chance,” Clemson said.

Clemson can relate first hand. “At one point in my life, I was a single mother who had to work hard to get my credit score up, I had a child in daycare, I was working full time – it’s a struggle, and I wish I would have had this opportunity.”

Dustin and Amanda Wooten with the keys
to the home they bought through
Project Reinvest.
ACFCU is reaching out to Project Reinvest families even now to make sure they know they can turn to us for financial coaching and other benefits that most institutions don’t provide. And we’re continually partnering with other organizations in the affordable homeownership sector so we can layer our work as a financial institution into their efforts. We’re constantly learning through our partnerships, which also extend to the real estate sector.

A good number of decent houses are still quite affordable in this region. Mix in all the help that’s available for low- and moderate-income families and you have a recipe for more life-changing stories.

(Jeff Keeling is vice president of communications and community relations for Appalachian Community Federal Credit Union.)

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