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Residents given tips on using home programs

January 29, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

Residents given tips on using home programs

Several potential home buyers attended a free seminar on homeownership Wednesday only to find the programs offered were too restrictive for them.

"It's informative, but at this point, it's not really helping us," said Ruby Dowler, 62.

Dowler's daughter, Debbie Cox, wants to buy a house in the West End for the two of them, but the house isn't within the designated area for a first mortgage program offering a 4 percent interest rate.

Two seminars held Wednesday at Frostburg State University's Conference Center highlighted the 4 percent program as well as the city's homeownership program, Neighborhoods First initiative and upcoming Home Store, which will promote homeownership.

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The city's homeownership rate is around 40 percent compared to 60 percent nationwide. The city's goal is to increase the homeownership rate to 50 percent in 10 years, said George Andreve, manager of the Department of Community Development.

Most of the roughly 50 people at the morning seminar were real estate agents or lenders, but some potential home buyers showed up with questions about low-interest loans.

Kim Sandeen, 39, expressed frustration at the boundaries set up for the 4 percent program.

The three eligible neighborhoods for the program are:

- The area bordered by Linganore Avenue, West Side Avenue, Summer Street and South Burhans Boulevard to the Conrail line.

- From Church Street to the railroad at Pennsylvania Avenue and from North Prospect Street to Potomac Avenue, but not including Potomac Avenue.

- From Bester Elementary School to McComas Street and from North Cannon Avenue to Potomac Avenue, but not including Potomac Avenue.

"You don't want to move into those target areas because they're not good neighborhoods to be in," said Sandeen. "Gee whiz, that's where all the crime is. I don't want to take my family in there."

City officials have said one reason they want to increase homeownership is because homeowners taker greater pride and care of their property and neighborhood.

Patty McDonald, 29, of the Saint James area, said she wasn't as concerned with her influence on the neighborhood as she was with buying a home in a neighborhood where her family feels safe.

"We would be involved in the community no matter where we go," McDonald said.

McDonald asked how the neighborhoods were determined.

Those areas were targeted because they had the lowest homeownership rates in the city, Andreve said.

People who participate in that first mortgage program also are eligible for a second mortgage program that requires a $500 down payment, Andreve said. The interest rate is negotiable and in some cases not needed, he said.

Andreve said he thinks city officials will consider expanding the second mortgage program so it isn't limited to the three target areas.

The first mortgage program cannot be expanded because the state approved the boundaries, Andreve said. City officials went for the biggest area they could under state requirements, he said.

A booklet distributed at the seminar concerning various homeownership programs will be available through the city's Web site in about three weeks, said Karen Giffin, public information manager. The city's main Web site is at (http://www.wash.lib.md.us/hag/index.html).

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