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Are there grants available for housing?

It absolutely takes a village, and part of our goal in building the urbanMamas community is to offer resources and guidance to all.  We received a recent email from a mama just outside Salem requesting help accessing grants or other financial assistance to buy a home:

My name is Starla I live in Stayton, OR.  I am 37 years old, single for 9 years. I have 3 kids each with a different type of mental disorder. My daughter is 14 with OCD, Trichotillomania, OCD Hoarder and ADD. One son is 12 with Autism/Asperger’s, PDD and ADHD.  Last but not least my 10 year old son with Bi-Polar and ADHD. My children are my world.  We moved to OR from CA so I can get my children more help through the school and Therapist, things are doing so much better here. I have a Home Day Care, that is so I can be more convenient when I have to drive my children to all of their appointments (therapist, Med Prescribers, a Home Skill Worker, or school teachers or counselors). I just went back to college in Oct. 2007, this is the start for me to a whole new career; my goal is to be a family Therapist for children with mental disorders.

Being a single parent with children with mental disorders, my job options are limited and the so are my finances. I would love to be able to buy a home for us.  I am renting a duplex so the maximum number of children that I can have in my Daycare is limited to 5 children.  If I had a home I would be able to have 10, and that would double my income.  Also my children are loud and they bother the neighbors on the other side of the wall (the neighbors know about my children and their mental disorders).  It is hard enough to try to control the children, and - when a neighbor comes over and gets in the middle of it - that makes it much harder.  My son (the one who has Autism) thinks that the neighbors want to kill him and I can’t get him to play outside, and he thinks that the owner want to kick us out (they don’t).  He lives in fear all the time. My daycare children are wonderful, and my children love them.  They all get along with the great.

If there is a grant that can help my buy a home for us that would help us out so much.

What are resources statewide (or even in Portland that could potentially have similar programs in other cities) that you could suggest? 


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I don't know how helpful this would be to someone outside the Portland area, but Portland and Clackamas County both have community land trusts. These are nonprofit organizations that help lower the cost of buying a home by essentially covering the cost of the land where the house sits. The home buyer still takes out a mortgage and goes through the normal purchase process, but the price -- and therefore the owner's monthly payments -- are lower because the land trust makes a sizeable contribution to the purchase price. When the homeowner decides to sell, they can benefit from the home's appreciation, but the land trust continues to own the land and the home must be sold to another qualifying low- or moderate-income buyer. These organizations also do lots of credit counseling and education to prepare home buyers.

I believe the land trusts also are working on remodeling homes they help people buy in an ecologically responsible way, using renewable and less-toxic materials. They also focus on making the homes energy efficient to lower heating costs, etc.

Portland Community Land Trust:
Clackamas Community Land Trust:

Rural Housing Services (formerly Farmers Home Administration) offers home ownership assistance in the form of no- or low-interest mortgages for individals who qualify based on income and location. http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rhs/

Your local housing authority may have a rent-to-own program. These used to be called Family Self Sufficiency programs. Part of your rent goes into a savings account that eventually can be used towards a down payment on a mortgage.

Good luck!

We bought our home 4 years ago by using the Oregon Bond program. It is not a grant, but a buy down on your mortgage. Our 30 year fixed rate mortgage is 1 percent lower than what the market rate was when we got the loan. You should look into that. We took a class at a place called the Portland housing center.


I don't know if they have something like that down where you are, you could call them and find out. They helped us find out our credit score, determine how much we could afford and explained all the various government and private home buying assistance programs.

State child care regulations are the same whether you rent or own your home. Landlords and neighbors can't limit your rights under the state regulations:

"(a)A maximum of 6 children preschool age or younger, including the provider's own children, of which only 2 children may be under 24 months of age.

(b) In addition, there may be 4 school-age children.

(c) If there are fewer than 6 children preschool age or younger, there may be more school-age children, as long as there are no more than 10 children in the home at any one time."

These are the rules for a registered child care home found at http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/rules/OARS_400/OAR_414/414_205.html

You can be exempt from registering if you care for 3 or fewer children, NOT including your own.

I hope you can make home ownership happen, but meanwhile you should be able to boost your income by taking more children into your care.

In Salem, you should contact Salem Community Development Corporation. They have homeownership programs similar to the Portland Housing Center referenced above, including down payment assistance and incredible savings opportunities with matching funds available. http://www.salemcdc.org.

The only thing that I can think of is Habitat for Humanity.

Ditto Habitat for Humanity.

You might also apply for the tv show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. I think that's the one anyway. They pick people in need and build them a new house.

City of Salem has a number of housing loan programs if you income qualify- including 1st time homebuyer - and at the very least would know what else is available that might fit your situation: http://www.cityofsalem.net/departments/urbandev/housing_loans_grants.htm. The Salem Housing Authority would also be a good resource, even if the bulk of its assistance is for renters: http://www.cityofsalem.net/departments/sha/. Good luck.

My sister has a Habitat for Humanity Home. They are often duplexes as well, but she ran a daycare out of it for many years(the back yard is private and you cant hear the neighbors). Habitat requires 'sweat equity', meaning that you have to put in a certain amount of hours working on the construction of your and others homes. You don't have to have experience, just volunteer time in some capacity.
She owns her home in Portland and her house payments are only $285/month!

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