Organization builds homes for low-income families

By Crystal Moyer - Traffic/reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Many struggle to pay for housing, but one local organization is making it easier for low-income families to own their own home.

In 14 years of its existence, Operation New Hope has restored and built more than 80 affordable homes and unveiled its newest housing development on the Eastside on Wednesday.

With the eight new homes built, the organization hopes to stabilize the communities that suffer from high foreclosure rates. In the meantime, it brought hope to several families who may not have been able to afford a new home.

"The American Dream; it's a dream that everybody wants and would love to have," future homeowner Zandra Hill said.

Hill will soon move into one of the homes in the affordable housing community The Oakland Commons.

"It means a lot as a single mother," she said. "My mother's deceased, my father's deceased, grandparents, and I have aunts that's supportive and uncles, but it means a lot to have our own place to call our home."

The new community is located along Phelps and Palmetto streets.

"We think about being able to deliver some really beautiful houses like we have here," said Kevin Gay, founder and president of Operation New Hope. "It's really going to get people excited and interested again about moving back into the heartbeat of the city."

Qualified homebuyers who participated in the project received about $50,000 subsidies to put toward down payment and closing costs for their home. The assistance came from the city of Jacksonville's Neighborhood Stabilization Program and federal funding, and comes with a 15 year residency requirement.

Gay said the homes will give low-income families a chance at home ownership. Operation New Hope is a program created to help restore and rebuild Springfield and East Jacksonville communities.

"I still don't believe it until I sign the dotted line," future homeowner Cyntoria Thomas said. "I mean, I think it's a beautiful opportunity, especially for first-time homebuyers, and to move back into our old communities is a blessing."

Thomas' great-grandparents lived in the community 85 years ago, and she's excited to grow her family in the same area. Other families are in the same boat and can't hide the excitement.

The future homeowners are just waiting to sign the dotted lines before they get to move into their new homes. Operation New Hope has already been looking at dozens of plots and plans to build more homes there in the future.

To qualify for a new home though Operation New Hopes ONH Development program, you must:
- have a minimum of one year of consecutive employment
-a minimum credit score of 620
-debt to income ratio of 45% or lower
-qualifying incomes vary depending on the number of people in your family

Click here for more information on the ONH Development program.

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