Opinion: New housing program could be a big game changer

Published 7:09 am Wednesday, May 1, 2024

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An Editorial Opinion of The Selma Times-Journal

On April 21, the Selma Housing Authority and the Black Belt Foundation held a lottery for who would receive the new home on Washington Street. As you know by now, that home went to Tamicka Newberry.

She was so excited to receive her home after she lost everything in the tornado last year that she just couldn’t contain her emotions. She was jumping for joy and needed to sit down in a chair for a moment to regain her composure so she could enter her new home for the first time. 

This home will be Newberry’s with no out-of-pocket expenses to her other than maintenance. With it being a new home, those expenses should not be too high. And the home is built up to code with new, energy-efficient appliances.

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How this home can be hers basically free of charge is due to an initiative by the National Assistance Corporation of America (NACA). This $169,000 home that Newberry received will be financed on a 15-year low-interest loan that will use her housing vouchers to pay for the home. 

Bruce Marks, CEO and founder of NACA, said that Newberry was approved for three-bedroom housing for her and her husband along with children and grandchildren, who also stay with her. Her housing voucher from the Selma Housing Authority will go toward the mortgage payments instead of going toward the landlords of Section 8 housing.

“It’s a game changer because someone who starts out with no wealth will end up in 15 years with over $200,000 in wealth,” Marks said. “So instead of using that to pay the landlord and generate wealth for the landlord, we use it for the housing choice recipient to generate wealth for themselves. So in 15 years, they would own it out right.”

This is an awesome program and has a lot of potential to help increase the wealth of local families. Right now Selma Housing president and CEO Kennard Randolph said they have five more homes already ready to go with five more on the way. The initial goal is to build 27 of these homes in the city, all of which would be at no out-of-pocket cost to the homeowner.

If this program can continue to be successful, this could be revolutionary for Selma, as you will not have to worry about dilapidated homes and you will have new homes that will serve the community for decades to come. 

In addition to that, these families will also be able to build equity while building credit so that they will be able to build wealth here. We are hopeful that it could transform the local economy of Selma.