Eager participants gain valuable information about affordable homeownership during MANNA, Inc.'s 2016 Homeownership Town Hall. (Courtesy of Jonathan Nisly)
Eager participants gain valuable information about affordable homeownership during MANNA, Inc.'s 2016 Homeownership Town Hall. (Courtesy of Jonathan Nisly)

Once upon a time, owning a home ranked at the top of the list of dreams for Americans — a goal for everyone from war veterans and newly-married couples to college graduates and blue-collar workers.

And while reaching that “promised land” may be more challenging today than in year’s past, one District-based nonprofit advocacy group continues to help those truly serious about homeownership to cross the finish line.

For over 30 years, the mission of MANNA, Inc. has remained the same: to help low- and moderate-income persons acquire quality housing, build assets for families through homeownership, revitalize distressed neighborhoods and preserve racial and ethnic diversity in the District.

Eager participants gain valuable information about affordable homeownership during MANNA, Inc.’s 2016 Homeownership Town Hall. (Courtesy of Jonathan Nisly)

And based on their track record, they’ve become pretty good at what they do.

“With the many kinds of programs available today, particularly for first-time buyers, it’s not only achievable but can be cheaper to buy a home instead of renting. Homeownership is still a good investment and it’s also a great way to actually save money,” said Jonathan Nisly, an outreach intern for MANNA’s Housing Advocacy Team.

“For many first-time homebuyers, the fear of coming up with the down payment and the anxiety over whether their credit score will measure up can be overwhelming,” he said. “That’s why we want people to understand that we’re here to assist them in the process, to simplify the steps they need to take and to help them become more aware of the many resources that D.C. and District-based nonprofits have at their disposal and which can make the difference.”

“And because of expansions to the District’s Housing Production Trust Fund and HPAP both for which we’ve advocated in recent years, we’re seeing more citizens get that home that they’ve desired for so long,” he said.

Nisly points to events like MANNA’s first Homeownership Town Hall held last June in Ward 1 which attracted over 150 people as proof that helping citizens through the process can yield positive results. MANNA held its second town hall on Saturday, June 3, this time targeting potential homebuyers in Ward 8 and which provided resource tables and workshops on subject that included: credit building, home maintenance, D.C. property tax programs, down payment assistance, legal estate planning and more.

The organization even has a citywide homebuyers club with some parts of the District hold their own meetings and workshops including Ward 8, led by D.C native T.C. Caviness.

“We should have close to 40 first-time homebuyers closing on homes within the next several weeks with the majority of them from Ward 8. We have also secured a grant that allows us to hold monthly workshops for the ward which allows us to provide financial literacy, credit education, budgeting and other tools that prepare them for homeownership,” Caviness said.

“People are excited even though they’re at the starting block. We don’t care what part of the city you live in — if you want to know about homeownership, you start with us. We know what’s available whether it’s builders from for profit or nonprofit companies or from the regular market.”

“But here’s the challenge, especially for millennials: there’s no real inventory in D.C. So, most livable properties start at a minimum of $300K. The dream is still within one’s reach — it’s just a little harder to achieve. That means you have to work at it,” Caviness added.

For more about MANNA, go to www.mannadc.org.

D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Dominic Kevin McNeir is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of service for the Black Press (NNPA). Prior to moving East to assist his aging parents in their struggles with Alzheimer’s,...

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