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RISMEDIA, June 1, 2007-(MCT)-Buying homes isn’t just good for real estate agents, said Millicent Adu-H’Torah, coordinator for Home Ownership Tulsa. It also helps buyers strengthen their finances, take control of their living situation and improve neighborhoods, she said.

“Home ownership allows a person to be more vested in their community and their livelihood,” she said.

That’s why HOT and its partners have designated June as Home Ownership Month and will conduct a series of events to assist and educate home buyers.

For example, Friday’s kickoff event is the Workforce Home Benefit Forum, hosted by Mayor Kathy Taylor, which will present the positive results of the city’s pilot program in offering Employer Assisted Housing Solutions to its employees.

Additionally, the business and community leaders in attendance at Oklahoma State University-Tulsa will hear how encouraging home ownership leads to work-force stabilization, enhanced work/life balance for employees, and low-cost benefits to employees.

HOT, an umbrella city agency that works to assist home owners and prospective buyers of all kinds, is perhaps best known for its year-round assistance for first time, lower-income home buyers.

Adu-H’Torah said three of the organization’s partners — Community Action Project of Tulsa County, Housing Partners of Tulsa and the Metropolitan Housing Community Development Organization — can award up to $3,500 toward the purchase of a home.

The money is awarded through completion of a Housing Workshop Certificate. These are earned through sessions that teach the steps required to buy a home. They cover loan qualification, provide credit report analyses and offer one-on-one consultations to discuss mortgage interest rates and navigate real estate terms.

“We can help with the baby steps in getting people ready for the responsibility of home ownership through credit and debt management assistance,” Adu-H’Torah said.

The workshops are offered throughout the year, though three are scheduled for June. A session at Central Library, Fourth Street and Denver Avenue, is scheduled for Saturday, and a session at Hardesty Regional Library, 8316 E. 93rd St., is scheduled for June 16.

Finally, a June 30 session at Martin Regional Library, 2601 S. Garnett Road, will be presented in Spanish.

“HOT isn’t just about low to moderate incomes, it’s about education for everyone,” Adu-H’Torah said.

But workshops are only part of the events during home ownership month. A community carnival will be held at Frost Head Start at 203 W. 28th St. North from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 9 through HOT and CAPTC NeighborWorks.

The carnival mixes food, a Jupiter Jump, face-painting and other activities with how-to clinics on financial literacy and home improvement. CAPTC will also hold other home ownership-related classes and activities throughout the week.

More information is available at 382-3200 or www.captc.org.

HOT and the Metropolitan Tulsa Urban League’s Housing Information and & Counseling Department have been working since March to dispel the myths of home ownership for single parents, low- and moderate-income families and senior citizens, with the 100 Homes in 100 Days program.

On June 28, the two organizations will celebrate the completion of the program at 6 p.m. in Centennial Park, 1028 E. Sixth St., with a first-time home buyer key ceremony and celebration.

Two days later, the Urban League and HOT will visit first-time home buyers throughout the city — including a Tulsa Public Schools teacher and a survivor of Hurricane Katrina — and give them symbolic keys and welcome mats.

Benefits of home ownership
–“Forced savings” through equity building
–More control over your property
–More privacy
–More choice over who lives near you
–Stable monthly costs
–Tax deductions
–Builds communities
–Lowers crime

Source: Charlotte Richert, family and consumer sciences educator, OSU Extension Service in Tulsa County

Copyright © 2007, Tulsa World, Okla.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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