If you dream of owning your home but don’t where to start, the Northwest Ohio Community Action Commission (NOCAC) probably has the answers you’re looking for.

NOCAC is celebrating Financial Literacy Month with live, virtual housing workshops on home repair and home purchase from 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 20. Topics include US Department of Agriculture home loans and home repair loans, credit-building products like NOCAC’s Matched Savings Program and home weatherization loans. Anyone can register to attend by contacting NOCAC’s financial coach, Amy McMaster, at 419-990-5136, ext. 3122, or amcmaster@nocac.org.

“Most people aren’t aware there are free programs to help them purchase their home or repair it,” McMaster said. “This workshop brings all of these agencies into one location so the public can learn more and have their questions answered by the experts. There are so many families on a fixed income, including our elderly, who are not in safe housing. NOCAC wants to make sure families are aware of programs that could make their home more energy efficient.”

NOCAC’s Weatherization Program aims to improve energy savings for income-eligible individuals by providing energy-related home repairs and modifications to improve safety, comfort and efficiency while reducing heating and cooling costs.

The Community Housing Impact and Preservation (CHIP) program also provides home repair funds, including for the full rehabilitation of a property, including correction of structural issues, heating, electrical, plumbing, lead paint hazards, accessibility and water or sewer issues.

The USDA Rural Development’s Section 502 Direct Loan Program provides a path to homeownership for low- and very-low-income families. No down payment is typically required and there is no private mortgage insurance involved with low-interest home loans.

All services are free and available through NOCAC’s Financial Opportunity Center (FOC), including the Matched Saving Program.

“I don’t have a magic wand to magically make all their credit problems disappear, but I do have some resources that can make the journey to home ownership easier,” McMaster said. “Most of the families I work with don’t have a credit score of 640 when we first meet. They feel overwhelmed and do not think home ownership is in their future. I help them see how to improve their credit and where to get started on the journey ... It’s like eating a whale — one bite at a time.

“There are so many people who have the dream of owning their own home and do not know where to start,” McMaster said. “This housing workshop explains the process and links them to agencies that can assist. Attendees will walk away with information and resources to make their home ownership dream come true.”

NOCAC is also offering a free, online credit repair class at 6 p.m. April 27. Contact the FOC at 419-990-5136 or www.nocac.org to find out more.

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