Authority offers helping hand to first-time homebuyers


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ST. CROIX - When Charles Fredericks and Marian Michael planned on growing a family together, owning their own home was one of the things they began working towards.

Last week, the couple signed off on paperwork that brought them one step close to realizing their homeownership dreams in the newly developed The Meadows at Bonne Esperance on St. Croix.

The subdivision is an affordable homeownership initiative of the V.I. Housing Finance Authority, and it also is the pilot for a new program the agency has launched called "Buy-a-Lot, Build-A-Home."

Traditionally, the V.I. Housing Finance Authority has constructed homes for its affordable homeownership initiatives, then offered them for sale to qualified buyers, who typically are first-time homebuyers.

This project, though, initially was being planned and developed in 2008, at a point when the bottom fell out of the housing market.

Since then, officials came up with the idea of offering the lots for sale to first-time homebuyers, a venture that has proven to be much more successful for all parties involved, according to Adrienne Williams, executive director of the Housing Finance Authority.

She said the lots are being sold to qualified applicants for 25 percent less than their appraised value, and to date, 22 of the 66 lots have been sold in the 20-acre subdivision located just north of Barren Spot and Strawberry Ridge.

Seven of the homes - including the one that Michael and Fredericks have chosen for their family - are under construction, and six additional contracted clients are scheduled to close on their homes and begin construction by the end of this year.

"This is certainly a dream come true for us. We are excited and look forward to continuing to invest in our home and our future," Fredericks said.

Williams said one of the more dynamic features of the homes and the program is that they are planned out in such a way that it would make them easily expandable.

"In the Virgin Islands, our people usually don't have starter homes. The home we buy is usually the home we raise our family in and the home we grow old in," she said. "The way the plans are, owners can easily add another bedroom or bathroom or porch and continue to expand on their home as the needs of their family grows."

Housing Finance Authority board chairwoman Debra Gottlieb said she is excited that the agency has been able to make homeownership a dream and vision realized for so many residents. She said homeownership is something that benefits everyone because it provides a more stable community.

"Owning a home should not be a dream, but an inevitable reality" for those who want it, she said.

Everyone who spoke at a ceremony last week at The Meadows offered encouragement to those who dream of owning their own homes.

Gov. John deJongh Jr. said the residents move to own a home shows that they are interested in investing in their community and encouraged them to stay tuned in to changes in their community. He said once a person buys a home they become concerned about the police, government, education and other important factors that affect them.

Banco Popular and Scotiabank also were on-site talking with interested potential homebuyers to discuss homeownership options with the authority or independently.

For more information, contact the V.I. Housing Finance Authority at 772-4432.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email fstokes@dailynews.vi.

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