Jefferson Community Action Drives Homeownership Through Education

December 16, 2019

The ongoing effort to expand affordable housing and encourage first-time homebuyers in Louisiana relies on a dedicated pool of professionals who work to educate buyers and connect them with available housing resources.

One of the most effective organizations in this endeavor is Jefferson Community Action Programs (JeffCAP), Jefferson Parish’s agency dedicated to empowering families, including the elderly, disabled individuals and the economically disadvantaged.

The organization plays a central role in educating new homebuyers and other residents on what they need to make the best housing choices for their families in Louisiana’s second-most-populated parish.

Community Cornerstone

JeffCAP has a 50-year history of providing comprehensive, high-quality, developmentally appropriate services to children and their families in Jefferson Parish.

The organization’s programs include Head Start, a retired senior volunteer program, housing counseling, and rental and utility assistance to help families keep their homes. Other offerings include food distribution, subsidized meals for Head Start children and temporary shelter for those who have lost their homes.

The Head Start program supports children’s growth and development through early childhood education; individualized teaching; safe, clean, well-equipped classrooms; and health, nutrition and mental health services.

JeffCAP’s community centers offer programs and services that are embodied in a wrap-around model that strengthens families through an emphasis on employment and the promotion of personal responsibility. Other key programs include employment services and energy payment assistance for vulnerable residents.

“We try to promote self-sufficiency and help those who are in a low-income state embrace opportunity and become part of the middle class,” says Craig Henry, JeffCAP’s federal program coordinator for housing.

Providing Housing Education

JeffCAP particularly shines in the arena of housing education, which is a vital step in fostering homeownership. Prospective homebuyers often need help accessing government resources and understanding how financial planning contributes to the creditworthiness necessary to obtain a home loan.

Access to affordable housing is a serious issue throughout Louisiana, particularly in Jefferson Parish. According to data from the Louisiana Housing Corporation’s Policy Map, half of all Jefferson Parish renters are cost-burdened, which means they devote more than 35% of their household income to gross rent.

In an effort to meet this ongoing need, JeffCAP offers comprehensive housing counseling to tenants and homeowners, as well as housing financial assistance. They also provide first-time homebuyers’ programs, home maintenance, financial fitness training and reverse-mortgage counseling to seniors. JeffCAP’s homebuyer classes can serve up to 350 people each year, but Henry says the organization hopes to expand that number with additional funding.

“We’re primarily focused on education and getting people to become homeowners,” Henry says. “We believe the middle class is very much alive and is attainable for all through securing a viable asset that can appreciate over time — through homeownership.”

“We see each and every client in a one-on-one preliminary session before the group education session,” he says. “From that thorough assessment we identify any deficiencies within their financial portfolio and clearly assess what needs to be done from the standpoint of credit worthiness.”

Henry says many locals who go through counseling with the agency are surprised by the assistance that is available, often in conjunction with the Louisiana Housing Corporation. “They really don’t know because they haven’t run a thorough assessment to see where they stand,” he says. “But once they sit with us they understand they can do it. It’s definitely an eye-opener for them to learn they can actually attain something that seemed impossible.”

Subscribe for the Latest

No Comments Yet

Let us know what you think