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In OR’s Sea of Foreclosures, Home Ownership Success

July 30. 2010

PORTLAND, Ore. - Oregon has the third-fastest foreclosure rate in the country, and nonprofit housing assistance groups say the key to slowing it is to help families pick loans and houses that realistically fit their budgets. Some of their efforts are culturally-specific, such as this weekend's Native American Housing to Home Ownership Fair in Portland. Anyone with a modest income and a goal to buy a home can get advice about their options.

Organizer Jen Matheson with the NAYA Family Center, says the same services are available statewide; the fair just brings them all together for a day. The home-buying process can be confusing even for people who have experience, and Matheson says many Native Americans are first-time buyers. Only 25 percent in Oregon own their homes.

"What you might have seen your parents or your grandparents do, to go to a bank and get a loan and buy a house - for a lot of folks from our community, that's just not something they've experienced. So, that's why we think that education and that coaching is even more important."

Matheson says people who get some financial counseling and a good loan product, and select a home that fits their budget, are the ones most likely to avoid problems. The event also includes workshops on affordable rental housing, financial fitness, and green living.

Proud Ground will be one of the organizations at the fair. It is a community land trust or CLT, and less than one percent of homeowners who buy through CLTs are in foreclosure, according to the latest national research. Jesse Beason, executive director of Proud Ground, says it's not magic - they just work to match families with homes and loans they can handle.

"When folks get a chance to really learn about all the ins and outs of home ownership, and when they're really put in a situation that they can sustainably afford a home and a mortgage payment that they can keep up, they are much more successful."

Beason says the CLTs offer homes at far below market-rate prices, and work with smaller, community banks as the lenders. They also help people who are already in foreclosure hold onto their homes. There are six community land trusts working throughout Oregon; find them at www.nwcltc.org.

The Native American Housing to Home Ownership Fair is from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, at the NAYA Family Center, 5135 N.E. Columbia Blvd., Portland.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR