Low-Income Housing Loans Still Safe

The sub-prime lending mess certainly had its effects in Houston -- but as Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports -- City of Houston officials are trying to educate the housing industry and consumers that there are still plenty of affordable housing options in the region.

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"There still is 100 percent mortgages available, there really are. These are reputable lenders, there are people that have integrity. They have a client in mind, not some of the problems that we had with the sub-prime market. If they make a 100 percent loan, that home-buyer is going to go through an education process. They're going to be ready to become a home-buyer."

That's Richard Celli, the City of Houston's Housing Director. Celli and a number of lenders held a forum for the housing industry, specifially trying to get information out to the region's realtors and housing counselors about the options available to low and moderate income buyers. The city has a couple different housing programs designed to get people into home ownership -- with grants of as much as $14,500 for qualified buyers. Houston Mayor Bill White urged the industry to be proactive in turning renters into homeowners.

"Nothing can be more important for a lot of families in Houston than to be able to build wealth and equity and feel as though they own their own home."

White says there are 400,000 occupied apartment units in the metropolitan area and many of those units represent potential homeowners.

"There is some portion of those folks who are making decent money, who have some job history, who have decent credit history that are capable of making a house payment of about the same or just a little bit more than they're paying for rent. For each person who's in that situation, I view that as an opportunity."

The mayor and city housing department say they're trying to dispel the myth that you can't buy a home for less than $145,000 and the myth that there aren't good financing options for lower-income buyers. The mayor says Houston has the most vibrant housing market in the nation right now and buyers should take advantage of all the kinds of assistance available. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.


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