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City opens The Home Store

January 05, 1999

Home StoreBy DAN KULIN / Staff Writer

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer




As part of an effort to boost homeownership in Hagerstown, free financial counseling for prospective home buyers is available at the Hagerstown Home Store.

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The Home Store, at the Roslyn Building in downtown Hagerstown, will offer two workshops a month.

The workshops will provide information about buying a house. Lending and real estate professionals will attend each work session, said Home Store Director Patricia E. McMillan.

Prospective home buyers also will have the chance to meet privately with Debbie Yost, the Home Store's Housing Advisor. Yost said her meetings will last for up to three hours, during which she will review a person's finances to determine how much he or she could afford to pay for a house.

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Yost, formerly a housing rehabilitation loan specialist with the Washington County Planning Department, said she also will work with people who want to buy homes but are being held back by credit problems. In such cases, she would help the prospective buyers develop personal budgets, she said.

On Tuesday, area politicians and others were on hand for the Home Store's grand opening.

By providing free financial counseling to prospective homeowners, officials hope to reverse the ratio of renters to homeowners in the city.

Currently, about 40 percent of the houses in Hagerstown are owner-occupied, McMillan said.

In Washington County, Maryland and the United States more than 60 percent of houses are owner-occupied.

McMillan said that studies and anecdotal evidence have shown that increasing home ownership is beneficial to an area.

"It pays off in the quality of the neighborhoods," she said. "When people invest in where they live they have an investment in their neighborhoods and they take better care of their properties."

The Home Store is run by Community Housing Resources, a private, nonprofit organization. The store is primarily funded by a $183,000 federal grant obtained through the city.

Workshops are scheduled at the Home Store for Jan. 21 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Jan. 30 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.; Feb. 18 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Feb. 27 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and March 18 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

People may show up on the day of the workshops, but McMillan said it would be helpful if people planning to attend would contact the Home Store at 301-797-0900.

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