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HERO Alliance - Home-ownership Resources, Education, and Assistance in Colorado

  • Synopsis: Published: 2013-01-22 (Rev. 2013-11-15) - The HERO Alliance is a nonprofit organization providing people with disabilities seeking home-ownership in Colorado with resources education and assistance. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Disabled World.
Homeownership Education and Resource Opportunities
Homeowner? The HERO Alliance is a nonprofit organization that provides people with disabilities who are seeking home-ownership in the State of Colorado with resources, education, and assistance. HERO has been helping low-income people with disabilities by empowering them with assistance and information they need to achieve home-ownership since the year 1992.

Main Document

The HERO Alliance, "Home-ownership Education and Resource Opportunities," is a nonprofit organization that provides people with disabilities who are seeking home-ownership in the State of Colorado with resources, education, and assistance. HERO has been helping low-income people with disabilities by empowering them with assistance and information they need to achieve home-ownership since the year 1992. Since that time, the organization has helped more than 1,800 people and families to become successful homeowners.

HERO is a collaboration of people with disabilities, lenders, realtors, advocates, government personnel, and others who have committed themselves to the creation of homeownership opportunities for people with disabilities who have low-incomes in Colorado. The organization has demonstrated that collaboration reduces the barriers to homeownership while information builds confidence and self-sufficiency. The organization offers people with disabilities some different programs.

Programs Through the HERO Alliance

The HERO Alliance offers people with disabilities some different programs to assist with homeownership. The programs the organization offers people include the following:

Education and Outreach: First-rate educational presentation to potential HERO consumers, real estate professionals, and support networks.

Housing Counseling: One-on-one, pre-purchasing housing counseling for people with disabilities who need assistance with preparing themselves for owning a home.

Information and Referral Services: Ongoing source of referrals and information for professionals, as well as one-on-one help for HERO consumers through an information referral line and website.

Homeowner Advocacy: Serves as a resource and advocate for people with disabilities who are, or hope to become, homeowners and coordinate with an ongoing team of professionals that support homebuyers.

The HERO Alliance is aware that buying a home can be a complex, frustrating, and often times overwhelming experience - even more so for a person with a disability. The organization believes that with additional resources and education, the process can be easier. For people with disabilities who are interested in owning their own home, the organization has a general guide that can help to determine if a person is ready for homeownership.

There may be times when you have to turn from the path presented by this guide to deal with one issue or another. You can always return to it when you are ready for the next step. Bear in mind that the process can take some time, but the path is always there for you to finish. The path to homeownership described by the HERO Alliance involves a series of questions which include:

Do I have my basic needs met

  • Supports for daily living
  • Food, Shelter, Medical care

Am I ready for homeownership

  • Do I have experience living independently
  • Do I want to live in one place for several years
  • Do I understand the cost and maintenance requirements of owning a home

Do I have the knowledge I need

  • Have I attended a home-buyer education class
  • Do I recognize that buying a home can take months or even years

Can I qualify for a loan

  • Do I have good credit
  • Do I receive Section 8 assistance
  • Do I have money in savings or other resources for down-payment
  • Can I document the amount & source of my income as well as my assets and debt

Am I ready for a loan

  • Have I explored all programs and options
  • Have I been pre-qualified with a participating lender

Which home is right for me

  • Is building a home right for me
  • Do I know what I need in a home
  • Do I know how to find the right home

I am ready for Homeownership!

The Future: Am I planning for long-term success

  • Do I have long-term supports
  • Do I know whom to call when problems arise
  • Do I have a will that outlines what I want done with my assets
  • Will I have the benefit of a special needs trust some day or have I worked out other ways to meet unexpected expenses

Loans for Persons with Disabilities

HERO Alliance partners offer people with disabilities who are qualified buyers a number of financing options that are many times combined as needed. The options work because partners leverage mortgages and often times draw upon more than just one program. The HERO Alliance may provide lender contact information. A person's housing counselor or lender can help them to determine which program is best suited for them. Some of the programs in Colorado State include the following:

The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA): The CHFA's HomeAccess and Section Eight loans provide people with below market interest rates, as well as down payment assistance.

Wells Fargo's, 'Community Development Mortgage Program': The program offers a below market interest rate to homebuyers with disabilities who are not first time homebuyers.

United States Rural Development (USDA/RD): The USDA/RD has several products that identify mortgage funding at below market rates for people who want to purchase in rural areas of Colorado State.

Organizations in Colorado that a person has used a Section 8 voucher for rental assistance through may also provide assistance with paying a mortgage such as:

  • Pueblo Housing Authority
  • Loveland Housing Authority
  • Fort Collins Housing Authority
  • The Colorado Division of Housing
  • Jefferson County Housing Authority
  • Colorado's Supportive Housing and Homeless Programs

The HERO Alliance can provide you with more detailed information on disability loan programs and contact information. Call them at: 720-941-8901.

The Section 8 Voucher Program and Public Housing Authorities (PHA's)

The, 'Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP),' or, 'Section 8,' is the federal government's program for helping families that are very low-income, people with disabilities, and seniors to afford housing that is decent, safe, and sanitary in the private housing market. The most common type of Section 8 housing assistance is the tenant-based rental assistance. The people who participate are free to choose any housing that meets the requirement of the program and is not limited to units located in subsidized housing projects.

Another type of Section 8 assistance is the, 'low-income public housing program,' which is project-based, and provides low-rent units for families and individuals who are low-income. It might be easier to get into this particular program, but the people who participate are limited to the supply of houses designated by the PHA.

The homeownership program under the HCVP is another one. In this program, if a family is authorized by the PHA, they can use their voucher to purchase a home. The people who participate need to have held a rental voucher from that PHA for at least a year in good standing in order to be eligible for the homeownership program.

To apply for Section 8 housing, a person has to apply at a local PHA. PHA's differ greatly in their particular policies related to handling of applications. Some PHA's have year-round sign-up for their waiting lists, while others have short enrollment periods. Others distribute Section 8 vouchers through a one-day lottery system. To find out how your PHA works you will have to contact it and discover how it treats their waiting list.

PHA's might establish local preferences where selecting applicants from their waiting lists are concerned. For example; PHA's might give preference to a family that is:

  • Involuntarily displaced
  • Homeless or living in substandard housing
  • Paying more than 50% of its income for rent

Families who qualify for any local preference move ahead of other families on the list who do not qualify for these preferences. Every PHA has the discretion to establish local preferences in order to reflect the housing priorities and needs of its specific community. A housing provider must; however, make reasonable accommodations for applicants with special needs.

Eligibility for a housing voucher is something that is determined by the PHA based upon the total annual gross income and size of the family. It is limited to U.S. citizens and specified categories of non-citizens who have eligible immigration status. Generally, a family's income must not exceed 50% of the median income for the metropolitan area or county in which they choose to live. By law, a PHA has to provide 75% of its vouchers to applicants whose incomes do not exceed 30% of the area's median income.

Receiving a Section 8 voucher can be hard, but it is possible. For people with special needs on low-incomes, the public housing subsidy is an essential part of living independently in housing that is both quality and affordable. Everyone deserves the right to homeownership if they can.

Low-rent apartment search (HUD)
www.hud.gov/apps/section8/index.cfm

You can find low-rent apartments for senior citizens and people with disabilities, as well as for families and individuals.

The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA)
www.chfainfo.com/
We have been in existence since 1973 and our mission is to finance the places where people live and work throughout Colorado.

United States Rural Development (USDA/RD)
www.rurdev.usda.gov/co/sfh.htm

The Rural Development Single Family Housing Program provides housing assistance to very-low, low, and moderate income rural residents.

Related Information:

  1. Home Purchase or Rent - Pros and Cons Comparison - Article looks at pros and cons of home ownership including mortgage payments and affordability compared to renting - (Published 2013-01-12).
  2. Rebuilding Together - Safe and Healthy Homes - Provides critical repairs energy efficient upgrades and accessibility modifications to low-income homes and community centers at no cost to those receiving the services - (Published 2012-11-12).
  3. Guide to Home Buying for People with Disabilities - Information on buying a house for people with disabilities including qualifying for home loans and mortgage with a disability - (Published 2012-08-15).




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