Ambassador City Fort Smith, AR, Expands Homeownership
The National Assn. of REALTORS® and the U.S. Conference of Mayors have named Fort Smith, AR a 2007 Ambassador City for its City of Fort Smith Homebuyers Assistance Program. The program provides potential buyers with credit counseling and mortgage readiness education.
The Homebuyers Assistance Program was created by the city of Fort Smith, the Fort Smith Board of REALTORS® and the Crawford-Sebastian Community Development Council, a local community action agency. The program aims to help combat low homeownership rates in Fort Smith, which are well below state and national averages. Since 1997, the program has helped more than 200 families purchase homes.
“REALTORS® build communities and are dedicated to helping families find a place of their own to call home,” said NAR President Dick Gaylord, a broker with RE/MAX Real Estate Specialists in Long Beach, CA. “Successful partnerships and initiatives like the Homebuyers Assistance Program have helped hundreds of families gain access to education and affordable financing to help make their dreams of homeownership a reality.”
Many of Fort Smith’s residents face significant challenges to homeownership, including credit concerns and down payment and closing costs. The Homebuyers Assistance Program directly addresses these challenges by providing certified housing counselors to help potential homeowners learn about different mortgage products as well as obtain low-interest financing. In addition, buyers can participate in a five-week financial fitness course on budgeting, money management, credit and predatory lending.
The Fort Smith-FSBOR partnership has also produced an annual home buying fair with education workshops as well as fair housing initiatives to help increase minority homeownership.
NAR President-elect Charles McMillan and Mayor Dan Coody of Fayetteville, AR, and member of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, presented the Ambassadors for Cities plaque to Fort Smith Mayor Ray Baker and FSBOR President Janet Matlock at the annual Partners in Homeownership Awards Luncheon. More than 200 people attended the luncheon including REALTORS®, lenders, government officials, nonprofits, and state and federal legislators. During the luncheon, individuals were recognized for their commitment to participating in homeownership programs for low- to moderate-income families.
“REALTORS® are leading advocates for expanding homeownership opportunities, and the Fort Smith Board of REALTORS® has helped advance this cause by joining with the city and the Crawford-Sebastian Homeownership Center,” said McMillan. “This partnership has positively impacted homeownership opportunities in the area and has made a difference in the lives of local families. The great work underway in Fort Smith gives us all a reason to smile.”
NAR and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, through its Council on the New American City, launched the Ambassadors for Cities Program in 2004 to encourage cities and local REALTOR® associations to form partnerships to promote homeownership and increase affordable housing in their communities. .