United Way classes produce their first home buyer | Local News

Single mother Christie Mowry is one of Lawrence County’s newest homeowners.

Along the way, she got a little help from the local United Way and its homeownership courses.

The agency first offered the courses in 2020 with the support of $10,000 Friends and in partnership with Penn State Extension, collaborated with First National Bank, Huntington Bank, Wesbanco, First Commonwealth Bank, Neighborhood Legal Services, PA Realtors Association and Health and Social Services. agencies. Mowry is the first participant to purchase a home for herself and her four children, guided by the instructions and resources provided through the program.

Having been a tenant for years, Mowry thought it was time to move into home ownership but, she said, “the thought of becoming a landlord was scary, there are a lot of unknowns.”

So her first stop was the New Castle Public Library, where she read 14 books on debt, credit, and money management and 10 more on being a homeowner.

“When Christie arrived for our classes, she was well prepared and was able to get valuable insights from our facilitators on topics such as utilities, understanding your credit report, and tips on saving money. money,” said Gayle Young, executive director of United Way of Lawrence County.

Using her tax refund, Mowry pledged to set aside funds to pay off her debt. She heard about housing classes through United Way and attended these sessions. She met a local real estate agent who was a lecturer at the classes and received advice on preparing the documentation and other essential information needed for home ownership.

“I’m still researching and learning a lot,” Mowry said. “My journey isn’t over. I’m planning renovations and budgeting, and next summer I have a goal in place to create the perfect backyard oasis.

“I live paycheck to paycheck, but I set a budget and a schedule, set deadlines and stuck to them. If I can do it, anyone can do it.”

United Way launched its homeownership courses in response to a housing study conducted by Lawrence County Commissioners. The results showed that the average rent in Lawrence County is close to $800 per month, and most renters earn less than $20,000 per year. These families are known as ALICE — Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed. ALICE households earn more than the federal poverty level, but less than the basic cost of living. According to the ALICE report for Lawrence County, these families make up nearly 50% of the county’s population.

“Our goal is to educate families about homeownership and help them prepare for credit when they find the home of their choice,” Young said.

Homeownership classes will resume in September and early registration is limited. Applicants are encouraged to call United Way of Lawrence County at (724) 658-8528 to register.