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Miami Herald - July 13, 2006


Project brings ownership home
Affordable housing for low-to-moderate-income families soon will be built on eight properties.


Carline Bido and her family moved into their new house in Northeast Miami-Dade only 45 days after applying for it through a Neighborhood Housing Services program.

Bido, a first-time homeowner as of about three weeks ago, said she ``couldn't ask for anything better.''

Soon, eight South Miami-Dade residents will get the chance to become homeowners, too.

Neighborhood Housing Services and Miami-Dade County are having a groundbreaking ceremony at 9 a.m. Friday at one of eight lots that will become affordable housing sites for first-time and low-to-moderate income families.

Homestead Mayor Roscoe Warren and Miami-Dade Commissioner Katy Sorenson will speak at the event, 637 SW Seventh St.

Arden Shank, Neighborhood Housing Services' executive director, said the agency will oversee construction of four 1,400-square-foot homes in Homestead's northwest sector and four 1,350-square-foot houses in the southwest. All the homes will have three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Building should be completed in December, he said.

The land was donated by the county's Office of Community and Economic Development, Shank said. Robert Nelson is the architect.

People interested in buying one of the homes should have an income between $30,000 and $70,000 and meet other criteria. They will be chosen on a first-come, first-serve basis, Shank said.

Neighborhood Housing Services is a nonprofit organization that aims to increase access to homeownership for first-time and low-to-moderate income buyers. Last year, it provided 678 families with home-buying information, 157 of whom purchased homes.

The organization guides families through the entire home buying process. Buyers are assigned to counselors who help them prepare for seeking a mortgage. Then they participate in an eight-hour ''Realizing the American Dream'' course, which offers training from real estate and insurance agents.

Later, they look at properties, sign a contract and get the keys -- all under the guidance of their counselors.

Bido, who bought her three-bedroom, two-bathroom house for $225,000 near the California Club area, said she was very pleased with the services her counselors offered.

''They kept me abreast of everything that I needed,'' she said.

Bido also said her new house is ''ideal,'' with an enclosed backyard and two large French doors.

To be a homeowner ''is a wonderful feeling,'' she said.

For information on Neighborhood Housing Services, call 305-751-5511.