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$1 million state grant helps Michiganders buy homes

The MSHDA granted $1 million to support Habitat for Humanity families' down payments and home repairs.

KENT COUNTY, Mich. — Habitat for Humanity of Michigan and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) are helping Michigan residents purchase their own homes.

MSHDA approved grants in late October of 2019, giving more than $1.15 million to Habitat for Humanity of Michigan for three major housing-related programs. The programs are aimed at helping middle and low-income families tackle housing needs such as down-payment assistance, critical home repairs and home furnishings.

A portion of the grant—$1 million—will be used for Habitat for Humanity's down payment assistance program and critical home improvements. The funding will provide forgiveable loans and help Habitat partner families cover up to $12,000 in home buying costs and up to $350 in reimbursement for pre-purchase home-buyer education counseling.

"This grant on an annual basis helps about 70 households, which is a significant number if you look statewide. And then there’s about 40 households that are helped through the down payment priority home repair process," Tonya Young, department manager for MSHDA's neighborhood enhancement team, said.

In order to qualify for the program, individuals or families need must meet a 60% area median income or below. Young said for a family of four, the average combined household income would be up to $46,000.

Rashika Lee, a Kent County homeowner started her partnership with the program in 2017. After going back to school to be a medical coder, Rashika was starting a career and new season of life.

"I was shopping around looking for homes, initially to rent, and just saw that the market was horrible," she said.

Because of her lack of credit, she didn't think buying a home was an option, until she spoke with a friend who introduced her to Habitat for Humanity and its partnership program.

In her partnership with the organizations, Lee took classes in finance and home repair, to train her skills for home ownership.

"I can caulk a shower. I can put down my own flooring. I can paint. I know a little bit about even plumbing, not a lot, but I can probably change a faucet now," Lee said.

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She also had a hand in building and designing her home, getting the opportunity to select the home's general area and items inside such as flooring and cabinets.

"Start from scratch, from dirt. And although I was a part of the whole process, once I saw it all together, it was amazing," she said.

Lee moved into her new home in August of 2019, something she said she feels she earned.

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"Expect to do the work. It sounds like Habitat for Humanity is giving you a home, and that’s not what they’re doing. What they’re doing is putting you in a position to own a home," she explained. "It wasn’t very easy but rewarding. I appreciate my home a lot more now, because I helped build it, I helped put character in it."

Community members interested in applying for the down payment assistance program and home improvements can contact their local Habitat for Humanity branches for applicant information.

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