For more than a decade, Marietta city officials have set a goal to have more home ownership, thus bringing in more property taxes, Coleman said. His forum targets first-time home-buyers and teaches them the process of buying and maintaining property.
The county has federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s HOME program and developed the block program to administer those funds as loans for the new homeowners, according to Mitch Bland with the city’s block grant program. Marietta officials make decisions about who should be approved for the loans, but Cobb County administers the funds.
“We work with the Marietta Housing Authority and Habitat for Humanity to help people who are very low income and wouldn’t be approved for a loan from the HOME program,” he said.
“It’s about helping the city and helping people achieve the American dream of being a first-time homeowner,” Coleman said.
A group of representatives from the City’s Housing, Community Development Division, Marietta Housing Authority and Cobb County Community Development Block Grant Program will join Coleman on Thursday to explain their programs and assist low- and moderate-income citizens. Most homes that the groups at the forum focus on cost less than $160,000.
During previous years, the forum has brought an audience of young families, teachers, police officers, firefighters, retired couples and previous renters. The primary group is young families, Bland said.
“When I started this, it was after a lot of citizens said they wanted to be homeowners but couldn’t find anything affordable in city limits,” Coleman said.
The first thing the groups tell attendees is to save money for a down payment, Bland said. Next, they touch on the importance of not spending all the saved money on the down payment.
“The last thing you want to do is spend all your money on a mortgage and have nothing left for maintaining a new home,” Bland said.
Coleman said over the last 12 years, the forum has resulted in about 20 people each year applying for loans or being referred to organizations that could help them.
“They need to know the details of buying a house and then owning it,” Coleman said. “And in turn, it helps the tax base.”
More homeownership results in fewer wasted police and code enforcement resources, Coleman said, because people are more stable and have neighborhood pride when they’re not renting.
Now is an opportune time to buy, Bland said, because interest rates are low.
The forum is free and open to all prospective homeowners.