Ward 8 Homebuyers Club

Homebuyers Club members learn what it takes to be mortgage-ready. Photos courtesy of MANNA

Homeownership is to many people a symbol of success. It’s likely the biggest purchase of your life, and that’s a big accomplishment. MANNA is helping make that happen for scores of people through the Ward 8 Homebuyers Club.

“We are the starting block for anything you need to know about home ownership,” explained Thomas “TC” Caviness, MANNA’s Homeownership Center director. “We are the starting point of where people go to get help.” What does that mean? It’s education about homeownership and financial literacy, credit counselling, and access to properties that non-members don’t have. “The point is getting people mortgage-ready. That’s success,” he said.

The Ward 8 club grew out of a citywide club. With funding from the 11th Street Bridge project, MANNA was able to pull together a club specific to Ward 8 residents. Let’s get you started.

The Ward 8 club meets on the first Saturday of the month at The ARC from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Membership is free, but there is an initial application fee on a sliding scale ($5 to $50) by income. That allows MANNA to pull your credit report and help you through the homebuying application process. You’ll do workshops on topics such as budgeting with online apps, Home Purchase Assistance (HPAP) program (interest-free loans and closing cost assistance), and how your credit score works. There’s a requirement to check in every 60 days to see how you’re progressing.

Here’s the process:

  1. First step after the application is a one-on-one meeting with a counselor to see where you are and your homeownership goals.
  2. You’ll go over your credit – what can be worked on, tips for keeping your score going up, and ways to keep it there.
  3. Then your counselor will go over financial products. Did you know there’s down-payment assistance that you don’t need to pay back?
  4. Next, MANNA will show you options for properties that you’ll have access to, including properties the general public does not. These are not on the market through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), and are not shown by real estate agents and online at Zillow and Realtor.com, but were built through nonprofits, with affordable housing grants, or are inclusionary zoning properties. They’re only available to people who are going through this process with MANNA or otherwise apply.
  5. Finally, it’s all about long-term responsible behaviors. This includes credit card use – not necessarily overuse, but keeping your balance at zero when you’re applying for a loan. It’s management strategies for you, and your personal habits, such as opening a savings account in another state and not getting an ATM card for it so you don’t withdraw that cash on a Friday night out. Good for you – instead of blowing it on drinks, your money is safe and sound, compounding interest!

You can join the Ward 8 Homebuyers Club at any time – there’s no specific start date. If you’re not a resident of Ward 8, there’s a general citywide homebuyers club that meets on the second Saturday of the month at MANNA (828 Evarts St. NE).

New at the Homeowners Club is a three-week course starting on May 17. It’s free and will include one-on-one and group settings, continuing financial literacy, budgeting, and credit insights. Club members may start at any time.

A great way to start is by attending the second annual Homeownership Fair and Town Hall, June 3, from 1 to 4 p.m., at Thurgood Marshall Academy Gym (2427 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE), next to the Anacostia Metro station. This free event will include workshops on DC property taxes, estate planning, HPAP, and homeownership. There will be resource tables with companies offering their services – financial, home maintenance, etc. (you know that means swag!). There will be Spanish translation and free childcare, and of course they will offer light refreshments.

At-Large Councilmembers Anita Bonds (D) and Elyssa Silverman (I) are confirmed to attend. Join them! Even if you’re not ready to own a home, it’s a great idea to have an idea of what you can do to prepare for it, and that starts well before you’re ready to buy.

For more information on MANNA, the Ward 8 Homebuyers Club, or the Homeownership Fair and Town Hall, go to mannadc.org. You can also contact Thomas “TC” Caviness at 202-534-1038, tcaviness@mannadc.org, or Pamela Johnson at 202-534-1039, pjohnson@mannadc.org.


Heather Schoell is a Capitol Hill REALTOR with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty and can be reached at heathersdc@gmail.com, at the office at 202-608-1880, or by cell at 202-321-0874.