$350,000 grant helps with down payment, closing costs, and rehabilitation

For Immediate Release
January 18, 2013
Contact: Joan Lawrence-Bauer
845-331-2140 x 263

Megan Weiss, a new homeowner assisted by RUPCO

Megan Weiss, a new homeowner assisted by RUPCO

Kingston, NY — 01/18/2013 — The City of Kingston and Rural Ulster Preservation Company (RUPCO) showcased a 158 year old city home with a brand new owner on Friday to encourage applications for grants to help people buy homes. Approximately 13 low income families will get to buy their first homes because of a RUPCO/City grant partnership and a series of speakers reiterated that there has never been a better time to buy a home.

“Interest rates are low. Prices are low. But coming up with a downpayment is still tough,” said RUPCO CEO Kevin O’Connor. “That’s where we can help.” O’Connor said grant money will help with closing costs and some home rehabilitation needs as well as with downpayment costs and he introduced Megan Weiss, a new homeowner assisted by RUPCO.

HomeOwnership Education, Financial Help

Weiss, who grew up in the Kingston and graduated from Kingston High School said living elsewhere was never an option. “I realized after Hurricane Irene how much I wanted a home of my own, but I had absolutely no idea how to go about it,” said Weiss. “Fortunately, because I work for Family of Woodstock, I knew RUPCO could help.”

Weiss said her first call was to RUPCO housing counselor Francisca Castellanos who calmed and encouraged her. “I saved money and took classes and saved more money,” said Weiss. “I called it a ‘rush, rush, stop,’ process but with the help of a lot of great people, I found this house with a patient seller and managed to get it done.”

HomeOwnership Important to City

Kingston Mayor Shane Gallo lauded Weiss for her perseverance. “Times are tough,” said Gallo “but we are dedicated to helping young people attain their first homes.” Gallo noted that Weiss, through her purchase, not only becomes a homeowner but a vested member of a neighborhood. “Your presence helps shore up this community, helps bring a positive influence,” said Gallo.

The Mayor also pointed to the economic benefits of a home purchase. “Real estate people benefit, banks benefit, the tax rolls benefit,” he said. “Then there are the contractors who do the repairs, the inspectors, the supply stores, and more. The spin off for the economy of each home purchase is critical to our future.

Mayor Gallo noted that the City of Kingston Community Development team saying that Jen Fuentes and Greg Swanzey work closely with RUPCO and others in the community to identify needs and fill them. “Resources are scarce and working together increases our capacity to bring in resources and deploy them. This is the epitome of a winning partnership effort.”

Housing Stock Is Beautiful

Local real estate veteran Victoria Hoyt helped Weiss find and buy the house and stressed how great the housing stock in the City of Kingston is. “I’ve lived in the same house in Kingston for 33 years and I love it,” said Hoyt. “This home Megan bought is a beautiful example of the historic architecture everyone loves in Kingston,” she added.

Charlet Wenzel, herself a RUPCO first time homebuyer, was the real estate agent who listed the house. “If foreclosures are our lemons,” said Wenzel, “then first time homebuyers are the lemonade. The purchase of this home not only allowed a young person into homeownership, but it helped an older person move on to the next phase of life.”

Both agents spoke of the joy of helping people to buy their first homes and stressed that people of all ages can do it. Prices and interest rates won’t stay this low forever, according to the agents.

Financing Available

Brian Mathews said Ulster Savings Bank was happy to work with Weiss and the professionals helping her to find mortgage solutions that were a good fit. “I want to reassure everyone that despite bad news and dire predictions, we do still have options available and are eager to lend to buyers like Megan.” Mathews said there is nothing quite as special as the pride of ownership that comes “when you close the door and know it’s yours.” Mathews said that Ulster Savings view homeownership as an important anchor for every community.

Other Stories

The homeownership event ended with the unveiling of a video showcasing another RUPCO success story in the City of Kingston. In the video, Paul and Colleen Krempl share their homebuying experience and what it has meant to them. RUPCO staffers advised that each week for the next 5 weeks, additional video success stories will be unveiled.

“It’s important for people to be able to see themselves as homeowners,” said O’Connor. “Our videos show people of different age groups and back ground and explain how their stories unfolded. We hope others will be encouraged to live the American Dream by watching these very personal stories.”

How It Works

The goal of the partnership outlined is to help first time homebuyers acquire and rehabilitate owner occupied single family homes in Kingston. Upon completion, the program will have improved homeownership rates, especially in midtown Kingston. People who would like to live in Kingston, and people who are already residents of the city are eligible if they have never owned a home or have not owned a home in at least three years.

The first step to a grant is to contact the RUPCO NeighborWorks Homeownership Center at 845-331-9860 to sign up for a homeownership orientation workshop. Workshops are held at least twice a month, with three scheduled in February. (The next orientation workshop is scheduled for Wednesday January 23.) At the orientation, HUD certified staffers will provide an introduction to homeownership principles and outline a comprehensive education and counseling program and process that will lead to homeownership. Finding the right home, financing, legal aspect, home inspections, home maintenance and energy conservation are among the many topics covered. After the class, those who want to proceed will have individual meetings with counselors to assess readiness and begin to work on their home buying plans.

“There are many hoops to jump through before you buy a home,” said O’Connor in closing. “There is no entitlement here and there is certainly work to be done. But for those who are interested and dedicated, RUPCO and our partners can certainly help.”

More information on RUPCO and all of the programs it offers is available at www.rupco.org.

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