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Posted: February 6, 2011 12:00 a.m.

Homeowners sought for Walker’s Bend

Covington is looking for homeowners for the Walker’s Bend neighborhood as it continues efforts to revitalize the half-finished subdivision.

The city is offering 20 grants that will provide $15,000 in down payment assistance to people who want to build and purchase a house in Walker’s Bend, located off Ga. Highway 81 just south of the Turner Lake Road intersection.

The city received a $300,000 state grant last fall designed to increase affordable housing for low-income residents. In order to be eligible to receive the $15,000 grants, a person must complete a 16-week, 22-hour program financial management and homeownership class, designed by Shamica Williams, who owns a mortgage brokerage firm and non-profit financial solutions organization.

The class will be open to anyone interested in improving their financial planning, not just prospective homebuyers. Williams said her class can help people are debt free or those who are on the verge of losing everything.

The first class is scheduled for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Feb. 15 at the Covington Fire Station on Alcovy Road. For more information, call Kathie Ruch with Hometown Realty Consultants at 770-786-7979; Hometown Realty is handling the real estate transactions in Walker’s Bend. Subsequent would be held every week at the same time on the following Tuesdays.

"Money is a big secret; nobody ever talks about it," Williams said. "Money is something that everybody uses, but nobody teaches you how to use it. We’ll sit down, and (I’ll) teach you what to do.

"Most people think of budgets as restrictive, the same way they think about a diet. But everybody is on some kind of budget."

The class will teach people how to budget and save money, how people’s personal values affect the way they think about and spend money and how to understand housing contracts.

"People feel intimidated and then sign everything. That’s the worst thing you can do," said Williams. "People are also emotional about their house, but it’s an investment. You have to be in a house you can afford to be in. We talk about the true costs of homeownership and even go over basic home repairs."

The goals of the course are to reduce foreclosures and generally improve the quality of life of everyone. Williams said every problem, like a small car or house repair, is magnified when a family is living paycheck to paycheck and stress is increased.

Once people complete the course, they can then be eligible to sign a mortgage, if they pass a pre-screening application, and have a 800 to 1,200 square foot, high-quality home built for them. The homes would be built to EarthCraft standards, a voluntary green building program that seeks to promote more energy efficient homes, and cost around $85,000, Williams said. She estimated that the downpayment assistance would help most homeowners take out a mortgage of less than $800 per month. All mortgages will be handled entirely by local banks to ensure stability, City Planning Director Randy Vinson said previously.

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