Nonprofits to offer homebuying help Saturday

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Two Wilson County nonprofit groups are working to help renters become homeowners with a $1,000 down payment.

The Makazi and Total Impact will present the assistance program from 1-4:30 p.m. Saturday in the conference room of the Wilson County Public Library, 249 Nash St. NW.

Sponsoring nonprofits are partnering with a mortgage lender who will assist qualifying homebuyers with the balance of the down payment, closing costs and other fees.

Organizers were inspired to provide homeownership help after meeting families who live in Wilson motels, where daily room rates can exceed $1,000 a month in rent, said Janet Conner-Knox, co-founder of The Makazi.

Conner-Knox and son Sherrod Knox, who serves as The Makazi’s executive director, incorporated the nonprofit in December 2016, according to N.C. Department of the Secretary of State filings. Makazi is a Swahili word meaning “shelter.”

Total Impact was incorporated the same month by the Rev. Jasper Kent, the Rev. Mark Johnson and Conner-Knox.

To qualify for the program, buyers must have a year of continuous employment and meet minimum credit score requirements for mortgage lending. Organizers will work with prospective homeowners to raise their credit score if they are unable to qualify immediately.

Conner-Knox said there are no minimum or maximum income restrictions, but borrowers should be able to make the $1,000 down payment and have a debt-to-income ratio showing they will be able to afford monthly mortgage payments.

“The lender will be present and so will some real estate brokers,” Conner-Knox said in a news release. “If your credit is not where it should be, or if you are worried about some other issues in your finances, come and see what can be done for you.”

Law enforcement officers, emergency medical technicians and firefighters are encouraged to apply and may qualify for additional assistance.