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7/4/04 - Miami Harold

Thirty families realize dream of their own home

By Ginelle G. Torres

Thirty Miami families ended ''National Homeownership Month'' actually owning homes -- thanks to a program aimed at making buying a house a realistic dream.

The first-time homeowners each received a $40,000 loan for the down payment from the city of Miami Department of Community Development.

If they remain owners of the property for 30 years, they do not have to pay the city back.

The effort was a combination of city, county, state and private money.

''The development represents a fine example of the partnership between nonprofit affordable housing developers and the public sector,'' said Joseph Grimes, chairman of the board of directors of the Jubilee Community Development Corp.

The new homeowners live in Jubilee Villas, 1060 NW Seventh St.

The complex is comprised of 30 two-bedroom, two-bath units that feature private balconies, air-conditioning, ceramic tile, walk-in closets and storage space.

''This is proof that the dream of homeownership can come true for any resident,'' Miami Mayor Manny Diaz said.

Commissioner Joe Sanchez created the City of Miami Little Havana Homeownership Advisory Board last year, with the goal of helping at least 500 people become property owners over the next five years.

The board has $7.5 million to disperse.

''We have worked very hard to create affordable housing opportunities that open the door to the American Dream of owning a home,'' said Sanchez, who represents District 3, where the villas are located.

To make the homes more affordable, Jubilee Villas also approved low second mortgages from Miami-Dade County and the Florida Housing Finance Corp., with a grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta.

While some of Miami's community developments groups have had difficulty executing their plans, Sanchez is determined to make his board different.

Little Havana became his target because only 9 percent of the area's 44,000 residents own their homes.

''We are very proud to have supported this development because homeownership brings pride to the entire community and homeowners become more active citizens,'' Sanchez said.