Seniors facing challenges with maintaining homeownership can keep relying on the Minority Homeowners Assistance Collaborative (MHAC) for another year for free assistance in keeping their homes.
The Portland Housing Bureau has again handed out grant funding for the program, which includes Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives, Inc. (PCRI), the African American Alliance for Homeownership (AAAH), Hacienda CDC and NAYA Youth and Family Center.
"Some of the challenges that our elders of color are facing are in not having access or knowing what programs are out there – but also the challenge of budget shortfalls that are out there," said Shalonda Menefee of PCRI, pictured at left.
This past year an array of housing support organizations faced defunding through City of Portland budget cuts. However Commissioner Nick Fish, who oversees housing, found ways to keep most funding for the "housing safety net" – a term coined by housing advocates seeking to unify their nonprofit groups and programs into a continuum of services from shelters to home ownership.
Housing advocates say the MHAC has served over 200 clients living in the City of Portland over the past two years.
The service specifically helps connect seniors to organizations that offer free services to help seniors stay in their homes, including: free home repair, free foreclosure prevention services, and free one-on-one counseling.
The Free Homeownership Retention Program is for seniors ages 55 or older who live in the City of Portland, own their own home and need supportive services or referrals to prevent foreclosure to maintain homeownership.
If you are a senior homeowner over the age of 55 years of age or know senior homeowners that need support and resources to maintain homeownership, this is the resource for you.
Menefee works with the MHAC program hands-on, and says it's a lifeline for elders who are themselves especially vulnerable to foreclosure prevention scams as well as just plain confusion when faced with the crisis of potentially losing their home
Menefee says the typical client often first calls looking for someone who can advocate for them with a bank or other large institutions around foreclosure prevention and home repair.
A phone conversation may be followed up by a home visit and a referral to a local group or agency that can help with home improvements or troubleshooting with banks.
"We take a holistic approach," she says. "This is a place where they can come to be heard and feel supported."
The African American Alliance for Homeownership and Hacienda CDC both provide free counseling and support services, and both take all comers regardless of race.
"A lot of our seniors have been in their home for a long time and need a roof on or repairs done," Menefee says.
"They leave relieved knowing they have an advocate and some support, knowing they have someone on their behalf."
Find more information at www.mhacportland.org or contact Menefee or Andrea Irby at 503-288-2923 or by email at Shalonda@pcrihome.org