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July 2, 2015 - 4:00pm

PathStone assists residents with purchasing and repairing homes in Genesee County

posted by Traci Turner in pathstone, genesee county, housing.

Heidi Kollarik is one of the many people PathStone has helped to accomplish her goal of owning a home for her two children.

Kollarik, a single mom and hairdresser, had just moved out of her parent's house and into an apartment in Oakfield when she decided to look into a homeownership program ran by PathStone, a not-for-profit community development organization. She wanted to purchase a house but didn't have the funds for a down payment. To find out more about buying a home, she signed up for PathStone's pre-purchase education classes in 2011. Some of the skills she learned included budgeting, managing credit and home financing.

After completing the classes, counselors met one-on-one with Kollarik to help her with the rest of the purchasing process. She was able to secure a $105,000 loan and buy a house in Oakfield in 2014. She also obtained a $21,000 grant through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development HOME Investment Partnerships program to assist with the down payment and closing costs. The entire process took three years but it was all worth it in the end Kollarik said.

"I'm so thankful they were able to help me obtain my dream of having a home for my children because it would not have been possible to buy a house being a single mom," Kollarik said.

During her annual agency review for the County Legislature, Sue Boss, executive director of the housing council at PathStone, met with the Human Services Committee meeting Monday said the homeownership program has assisted 1,550 people purchase their first home in the county since 2010. Boss said approximately 95 percent of those people were eligible to receive grant funding. 

To be eligible, applicants have to be approved for a mortgage, meet income criteria and provide some of their own money for the transaction. Many of the applicants who have received assistance had a household size of two to three people with a female head and an average income of $33,000. 

The program is funded through federal, state, county and private aid. Some funds people can receive money from include New York HOME funds and Revolving Loan funds.

The program will also be offering additional funding after it receives a home grant for $200,000 through the New York Division of Housing and Community Renewal and a $300,000 grant through the New York Affordable Housing Corporation.

To determine if grant money is available, all their applicants receive counseling and given the option to take classes on purchasing a house.

"Anybody that comes to our program receives individual counseling from our certified counselors," Boss said. "We also offer group education classes. In the classes we cover everything from credit and debt management, how to shop for a realtor, home inspections and what the house purchasing process is from start to finish."

In addition to the homeownership program, PathStone offers a handyman program, an owner occupied rehab program and foreclosure and default program for Genesee County residents.

The handyman program runs in conjunction with the Genesee County Office for the Aging to help people over the age of 62 repair minor issues with their homes. Applicants can be renters or homeowners. All services are free if their income is 80 percent or below HUD's median-income figure. According to Boss, the program serves 240 households a year. 

The owner-occupied program provides homeowners with funds for structural and mechanical repairs. This program is currently on a hiatus but will back up and running as soon as a grant is released. 

The foreclosure and default program is ran by PathStone's affiliate the Housing Council to assist residents that are in default on their mortgage. Grants are available through the New York Mortgage Assistance Program, a new program that launched this year.

With all these programs, the organization aims to fulfill its mission to encourage individuals, families and communities to obtain economic resources for building better lives. PathStone has been providing services in New York since 1969.

To honor foundations and members of the community that support its mission, the organization will be having a community luncheon on July 10 at the Clarion Hotel. They also will present the PathStone Visionary Award to Jay Gsell, county manager.

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