By: Joyce Shelby
Helping with home-work
Michelle McBeth-Buchanan doesn't know how long her dream of home ownership may have to be deferred.
"It seems it's going to be impossible to obtain a mortgage," McBeth-Buchanan said. "And the cost of houses - they're ridiculously high."
The 29-year-old social worker rents in Prospect Heights. She said despite the current tight mortgage market, her American dream won't come true until she owns a home.
There is hope for such dreams, said Yeneika Puran, assistant director of the Erasmus Neighborhood Federation which helps homebuyers.
"We urge people to come to us before they do anything," said Puran. "We help them figure things out. We can refer clients to organizations and government agencies that can help with closing costs and give first-time mortgage assistance.
"And we have a program to help homebuyers and homeowners with renovations. These are the things homebuyers should know about," Puran said.
The Flatbush federation is one of many nonprofit agencies helping people who want to buy homes.
McBeth-Buchanan said she considered herself a savvy consumer, but wanted to take advantage of every opportunity to learn more. She recently attended one of the federation's two-hour classes.
"Many people come to this country to get a good education and own land," said McBeth-Buchanan, who emigrated from Guyana to Brooklyn when she was 8.
"But people can be scammed when they don't make enough money to really afford their American dream," she said.
At the federation class, McBeth-Buchanan listened to general tips and then had a one-on-one session with Puran. McBeth-Buchanan said she would be back for more advice.
"It's rough for young adults right now," she said. "I wish we could get better housing laws to protect consumers. It makes no sense to spend so much money on a house and then lose it."
McBeth-Buchanan was referring to the current problems with subprime mortgages.
Thousands of New Yorkers who took out the loans with high interest rates are now facing ballooning monthly payments they cannot afford. Many have already received foreclosure notices.