KeyBank, NeighborWorks and The Fair Housing Center Expand Access to Home Loans in Toledo

(L to R) William Farnsel, Nicole Reno-Osby, Abdul Saqi, Jim Hoffman, Marie Flannery, George Thomas

Special to The Truth

On Thursday, September 2, representatives of KeyBank, NeighborWorks and The Fair Housing Center held a press conference to announce a partnership designed to make financing for single-family homes easier and more affordable for low to moderate income individuals and families in the city of Toledo.

The program is funded by a $3 million investment from KeyBank, administered by NeighborWorks and will provide an estimated 60 first mortgage and refinance loans at below market rates to borrowers in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods in the city of Toledo. To be eligible, borrowers must have incomes of not more than 80 percent of the area median income.

“This loan program is unique,” said Jim Hoffman, president, Northwest Ohio Market, KeyBank. “We can finance individuals who have good income that is not necessarily verifiable. By turning distressed properties into valued residential assets, as well as creating an affordable pathway to purchase and improve homes, we hope to help neighborhoods and people thrive.”

NeighborWorks views KeyBank’s investment as a tremendous opportunity to add home purchase resources that will benefit low- and moderate-income consumers,” said William Farnsel, executive director, NeighborWorks.

The goal of the program, noted several Fair Housing Center leaders, is to promote homeownership and thereby decrease the wealth gap between the black and white communities.

“Homeownership fosters stronger and more stable neighborhoods,” said Marie Flannery, president and CEO of The Fair Housing Center. “Homeownership is a major way to build generational wealth. Unfortunately, this opportunity is too often out of reach for many in our community.”

“The home is a family’s most valuable asset,” said George Thomas, vice president and general counsel for The Fair Housing Center, as he noted that 74 percent of white families own their homes compared to only 44 percent of black families. Such a homeownership gap, he added, results in the fact that the average American white family’s wealth is estimated to be 10 times that of the average black family.

“These are the types of steps we can take together,” Thomas said of the KeyBank, NeighborWorks, Fair Housing Center collaboration.

On hand at the press conference was Abdul Saqi, one of two Somali refugees who are part of the first group of individuals who will receive approved loans through the new collaboration. For five years Saqi has been waiting for approval for a loan and finally received it when the new program was enacted. He will be purchasing a home in Autumn Woods in the Angola area.

“He and his family are now settled,” said Nicole Reno-Osby, his spokesman with NeighborWorks. Saqi had much to overcome having had no credit score whatsoever at the beginning of the process.

Loan applicants will be required to attend a NeighborWorks home buyer orientation session, as well as individual counseling sessions that will include an affordability analysis. Additional credit counseling, credit repair instructions and on-site home buyer education will be offered by NeighborWorks Financial Opportunity Center.

NeighborWorks underwriting standards will be used to qualify loan applicants and applications will be submitted for consideration to an internal loan committee made up of senior NeighborWorks management. The Fair Housing Center will ensure the program is inclusive and delivers on its goal of building communities that create and offer opportunity for all.

For more information, interested borrowers can contact NeighborWorks by phone at 419-691-2900.