Special Photo. Graduates of a finance and home buyers education course included Lachandria Shy, Delissa Blackshear-Dardy, Patrick and Suzzette Reese, Alfreida Capers, Terrence Cook, Barbara Griffin and Lasheika Scott. Not pictured are Leouanna Carter and Terra Haynes.
COVINGTON -- A finance and home-buying education course funded by the Covington Redevelopment and Housing authorities recently graduated its first class.
All 10 graduates are eligible for a $14,999 grant to apply toward a home purchase in Walker's Bend, the site of the city's housing initiative. Now they will have to qualify for a loan. Some will be ready to do that within a month, while for others it could take up to a year, said Shamica Williams, financial coach and director of Energema, a financial consulting service. Graduates also received certificates from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, meaning they are eligible for additional HUD assistance.
The 16-week course was free to participants and focused on finance basics, including budgeting, taxes, purchasing decisions and banking, and more complicated issues such as contracts and mortgages. Most similar courses are designed to be eight hours, and students have to cram in a lot of information in a short time, Williams said.
"The beauty of these four months is that every week important things are mentioned. You see the progress. This becomes a way of life. You hear the other people in the class. It's easier to live your life a different way if you have other people around you doing it," she said.
The course started with 20 students but several dropped out due to personal reasons, Williams said. Others left after learning the end result of the course would not end with the gift of a house.
Williams said she's "very pleased' with the success rate of the first class. Some participants brought their teenagers to the course and are passing the information they learned on to their children.
"Now they feel empowered and have the information they need to make better decisions. A couple of people said this class had restored their hope," she said.
Another course is slated to begin in August. For more information, call Hometown Realty Consultants Inc. at 770-786-7979.
The cost for the program is $40,000, with $25,000 funded by the Redevelopment Authority and $15,000 funded by the Housing Authority. The Covington City Council allocated $1 million to the Redevelopment Authority for the city's housing initiative. Initially, all the money was allocated to purchase lots but when those were obtained at a cheaper than expected cost, the council agreed for the leftover funds to be used for the financial training program.