Published: July 14, 2008 by Tiffiny Woo, Eufaula Tribune
Alberta Jones’ dream of home ownership has come true.
Affectionately called “Big Mamma” or simply “Mamma” by most that know her, Jones has lived in public housing since 1957. Her family, she says, was the third family to move into Eufaula’s newly constructed houses.
But Jones recently became the first Eufaula Housing Authority resident to take advantage of the authority’s homeownership program. Through this program, she has gained valuable knowledge about owning her own home, learning about topics such as the mortgage loan process, home buying terminology, finding the right house, living on a budget, credit and credit reports, loan closing, foreclosure prevention, basic home maintenance and avoiding predatory lending.
Those who complete the training program are also eligible for further assistance from the Eufaula Housing Authority. The EHA can provide down payment assistance to applicants who qualify. In addition, the EHA also purchases houses and renovates them for sale to their homeownership program participants.
The home that Jones recently purchased is one that the EHA renovated. Purchasing and rehabilitating existing homes in Eufaula has a three-fold benefit. It makes homes available for the workshop participants, helps sustain the neighborhood with responsible homeowners and increases the tax base for Eufaula.
But for Jones, her reasons for entering the program are simple.
“I wanted to own my own place,” she said during a housewarming reception held last week at her new home. “I wanted my children to have something when I’m gone.”
She couldn’t have done it, however, without the help and support of several people, especially EHA Resident Services Coordinator Scharon Peterson and BankTrust loan officer Pat Johnson. She also thanks her friends that told her about the project and her brother, Harvey Battle, who helped make her dream come true.
“They helped me so much with this,” said Jones.
“We spent a lot of time visiting and talking,” said Peterson. “I helped her get ready and we talked about budgeting.”
Many of the people who worked behind the scenes to put Jones into her own home also attended the housewarming.
After a tour of the facility, Mayor Jay Jaxon spoke a few words during the reception, congratulating Jones and praising the program.
“It’s good to see it come to fruition,” said Jaxon. “This is part of the 2020 vision that the people of Eufaula share. I thank all of the staff at the Housing Authority and everyone who was involved in this project.”
EHA Executive Director, Tom Wachs commented that it is people like Jones who will build the surrounding neighborhood up.
“We hope you’ll be the model that inspires others to buckle down, go through the program and own their own home,” he said. “It’s a vision of this city and of the Housing Authority to see more residents go from renting to being homeowners.”
Wachs added that the program is open to anyone, not just Housing Authority residents. In fact, three other homes have been purchased through the program, but Jones is the first Housing Authority resident to complete the process.
“It’s wonderful,” said Jones about her new home and the homeownership program. “I’d love to see others come and take advantage of this and see them get on their feet, too. I’m just thankful this was possible and thankful that someone made it possible.”
Jones expects her newly renovated home to become a favorite place for her family to visit.
For more information about the Eufaula Housing Authority and the Eufaula Housing Development’s new Dream Come True Homeownership program, call 687-2451.