CATEGORY: Miscellaneous

AUTHOR: BOBBY

HED: State pushes homeowner goal

By Bobby Harrison

Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON - About 6,300 low- to moderate-income Mississippi families have obtained one aspect of the American dream - home ownership - during the first year of a Fannie Mae program.

Fannie Mae is a private, congressionally chartered company that provides the nation's largest source of funds for home mortgages.

Last March, Fannie Mae officials, flanked by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., announced plans to invest $2.5 billion in the state over a five year period to provide affordable housing for 30,000 low- to -moderate income people.

On Tuesday, flanked by the state's other United States senator - Republican Thad Cochran - Fannie Mae officials announced that the company has granted $460 million in home loans to 6,300 families during the first year.

'Real results'

"Fannie Mae's commitment to Mississippi has produced real results," Cochran said Tuesday at a ground-breaking ceremony for a new 1,100-home neighborhood in northwest Jackson. "The HouseMississippi initiative is enabling more hard-working families in our state, both urban and rural, to realize the American dream of owning a home."

The "dream" of owning a home may become even more real thanks to a new program announced Tuesday by Fannie Mae and the Mississippi Home Corporation. The program, called the Mississippi HomeRun Mortgage, allows people to buy a home with as little as a 1 percent down payment or a $500 down payment.

"The closing costs and the down payment are the hardest to come up with for people on fixed salaries and income," said Betty Temple, a vice president for program operations for the Mississippi Home Corporation.

"They can afford the monthly payments if they can just get some help up front. This gives people the opportunity of an affordable and safe place to live and it also gets people on the tax rolls, which helps with school taxes and city taxes. This helps the people, the communities and the state."

Fannie Mae will provide the funds for the program to the Mississippi Home Corporation, which is a state agency that provides low interest loans for low- to -middle income families.

Temple said the Fannie Mae program will be a big boost to Mississippi because often there isn't enough money in the Home Corporation program to meet demand.

Fannie Mae, chartered by Congress in 1938, does not lend money directly to the home buyers, but instead provides a source of funds to lenders.

For instance, the Jackson neighborhood project announced Tuesday will be financed through Trustmark National Bank with help through the H.C. Bailey Co. The Forest Park project will be the largest housing development in Jackson in 30 years.

Other programs

The housing development is one of many ways Fannie Mae is trying to meet its goal of investing $2.5 billion in the state on affordable housing programs. Other methods include:

- Inexpensive down payments.

- Interest rates below market value.

- Programs to establish and maintain affordable rental housing.

- A program to provide down payment help for people willing to teach in the rural Delta region, where there is a shortage of qualified instructors.

The new Jackson neighborhood will consist of homes available to people who want to own or rent.

Many of the 6,300 homes bought through Fannie Mae programs have been located in rural areas throughout the state. Tim Carlsgaard, a regional communications director for Fannie Mae, said a real focus for his company is home ownership in rural areas.

Fannie Mae is the largest corporation in America, with $404 billion in assets. In the past 60 years, the company has provided more than $2 trillion for financing 30 million homes.

For more information about available Fannie Mae programs, phone 1-800-732-6643 or check on the Internet at www.fanniemaefoundation.org.

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