Making Homeownership A Reality

March 2, 2023

For many individuals living in the Durango area, the dream of owning a home is just that - a dream. However, organizations like HomesFund work to make homeownership an attainable reality. From programs like mortgage assistance to housing counseling and a homebuyer education class, HomesFund ensures prospective buyers know what to expect and how to navigate owning a home. By Hannah Robertson. This story is sponsored by Alpine Bank

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Hi, I'm Eric Eicher, President and employee owner of Alpine Bank, Durango. Alpine Bank is only as strong as its community and giving back to the community is one of our core values. I'm proud to present Alpine Bank's Community Matters program highlighting local nonprofit organizations.

Durango is known for many things. It's outdoor activities, historic downtown coal-fired train, and high cost of living. Many individuals and families often struggle to find a place to live that's affordable and fits their needs, and that is where organizations like Homes Fund come into play.

Homes Fund is a nonprofit organization and also a CDFI, which stands for Community Development Financial Institution. And we were founded in 2008. We were originally under the umbrella of the RHA, the Regional Housing Alliance. And then in 2017 Homes Fund split off from the RHA and really came into our own as our own entity, outside of that umbrella of the of the RHA. We do all sorts of activities to encourage affordable and attainable home ownership; mainly for people who are in our workforce, people who are teachers, or firefighters, or police officers, or non-profit workers, or admin assistants, or retail workers. People who typically struggle to reach affordable Home Ownership.

Homes Fund offers a variety of programs to assist prospective homeowners with the home purchasing process; including a home buyer education class, housing counseling, and mortgage assistance. The Home Buyer Education class is a free eight hour course offered once a month, that goes through the pros and cons of home ownership, often bringing in local lenders and realtors to talk about the real estate and lending processes. The goal is for participants to learn how to be a successful homeowner.

And then our housing counseling is where people come in and do a one-on-one session with our certified housing counselors. We have four certified housing counselors on staff, and they take a look at all of the financial information that people submit. And we go through their budget line item by by line item and really make sure that people are financially prepared on an individual level for home ownership.

The third service Homes Fund offers is mortgage assistance or down payment assistance, the terms are often used interchangeably, offering the financing of loans with favorable terms to enable people to buy a house. The loans, which are up to $125,000 are often structured as shared appreciation loans, with little to no interest and no monthly payments. Homes Fund also offers manufactured and mobile home loan programs, as many individuals have a hard time financing these types of homes.

Our biggest challenges right now are increasing interest rates, because what we're providing is mortgage assistance down payment assistance, and people still need to be able to get a first mortgage. And with interest rates rising from 3% a year and a half ago up to six or 7%, that has greatly impacted affordability and it's made it increasingly difficult for people to get into affordable home ownership.

The lack of supply of homes also poses a challenge to perspective homeowners; and the fluctuating nature of the market has Homes Fund continually changing its approach and adapting its programs to better serve its participants. However, Homes Fund plans to continue its efforts to serve people in La Plata County, through its partnerships with the city of Durango, the towns of Bayfield and Ignacio, and other local government entities.

Don't give up on your dreams of home ownership. There are resources available. Come and find out what those resources are. Come to our home buyer education class, get housing counseling from one of our counselors. Find out what mortgage assistance is available and see if home ownership is more possible than you thought.

Homes Fund has partnered with Fort Lewis College to offer an employee mortgage assistance program, and is currently working with the City of Durango to administer the deed restriction program to increase the supply of affordable housing for people who live and work in Durango. Find more information about the programs Homes Fund offers, and sign up for the Monthly Home Buyer Education course on its website. Thank you for watching this edition of Community Matters. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.


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