Sussex County Homes for Wounded Warrior Families
We need more candidates for our Sussex County Homes for Wounded Warrior Families. We have openings now. Plus we want to fill our “pipeline” of candidates ready to take opportunities when they pop up or in a planned future.
Who We Are: We are now registered as Sussex County Homes for Wounded Warrior Families, a program under the 501(c)(3) Veterans Awareness Center Foundation of Delaware. Liz Byers-Jiron is the Foundation Executive Director known for the annual DE wide Veterans Stand Down which drew a crowd of about 50 when it started 8 years ago and drew about 1,000 attendees in 2015.
We assisted our first Family earn and move into their new home for Christmas 2015. As Project Leaders of the Sussex County Habitat for Humanity 2015 Veteran Build Project we raised over $80K. After this success we decided to work with more Partners than just Habitat.
Thanks to Liz we acquired 501(c)(3) status quickly. And thanks to local interest we assembled a “Dream Team” of Affordable Housing and Financial Partners. We now offer options for renovation, new build or direct purchase of larger homes and more styles in less time.
In Dec we accepted 2 candidates Families we observed during 3 years of volunteering with Bethany’s Operation SEAs the Day Warrior Family Vacation Week. Although we asked some of you to start recommending candidates, we were waiting until we were fully legal before asking all of you to make it a priority to recommend candidates to us. We are legal now, so start recommending candidates!
Having you make it a priority to recommend more Families to us was intended to help us collaborate with all of you to keep our “pipeline” filled with candidates that could quickly fill unexpected vacancies such as the vacancy we have now because one of our 2 Families worked so hard getting “mortgage ready” he qualified for a mortgage in a the town in which his kids wanted to finish HS. We did not expect to be helping a Family in that way, but we are happy for them.They earned that mortgage!
What We Need From You: Our strategy for finding qualified Families counts on all of you to be “pre-screeners” to recommend Families to us that you believe can, with assistance from our Mentor Teams, successfully do the work that will be needed to move here.
That said, we are seeking 2 or 3 Families to place in new homes in the next 12 to 18 months, and a few more Families to be in our waiting list (i.e., pipeline) to be ready to seize unexpected opportunities and start preparing themselves to be the next waves of homeowners because we will assist Families earn homeownership for as long as we have candidates.
We are very aware of the need manage the expectations of Families on a “waiting list”. We will not disappoint anyone.
What We Offer Disabled Wounded Warrior Families:
- A chance to earn homeownership of a ADA accessible home, suitable for their family and their financial situation in a friendly community with: a) affordable life styles; b) realistic access to food stores and retail, schools, entertainment, recreations, etc., c) welcoming community organizations and other Disabled Wounded Warrior Families, and d) the likelihood under VA Choice that the Warrior can access local medical specialists as well the VA Hospital 1.5 hours away and the CBOC about .5 hours away. The towns in which homes will most likely be located include Ocean View, Millville, Millsboro, Selbyville, Frankford, Dagsboro, Georgetown or Bethany Beach, all of which are about 30 minutes from bay and ocean recreation and seasonal tourism jobs.
- We say “earn” because each Family will have to:
- Earn a mortgage. We take actions with our Partners to structure a mortgage such that, regardless of the appraised value of the house the total monthly payment will be less than 30% of the Families “permanent” gross income (i.e., certain allowances, such as for the Caregiver stipend, are not counted as permanent). Note that most of our houses will be appraised at $250K offering about 2,000SF on one level plus a garage.
- Become “mortgage ready”. Our Mentor Teams and Community Assistance Partner experts will help settle “bad debt”, restructure “long term debt” including high cost car loans, restore credit ratings to put our Families in positions to afford their mortgages and new lifestyles. This task is made easier because Delaware has no sales tax and low property/income tax.
- Their Own Dedicated Mentor Team which in addition to guiding them to become “mortgage ready” will also help the Family learn different ways to enjoy living and moving here. Our goal is to have each Family known and respected on a “first name” basis.
- Our Dedicated Project Teams work in the background to secure donations of funds, services, materials, etc. to pay for the renovation or new build of a house. For example, Sussex County Contractors for a Cause (CFAC) has agreed to provide all labor at no cost: This enables us to deliver high quality, energy efficient, easily maintainable homes in much less time than traditional volunteer work based building programs. As a donation, the free labor also reduces the mortgage by about $50K
Each Family will own their home. They can modify it as they wish. And they can sell for fair market value back to us or others based on the situation, any time their their life changes or they discovered that they do not enjoy living in semi-rural Sussex County.
What Qualifications Do Families Need: I am asking you to recommend Families that “kind of, sort of” align with the following qualifications. And BTW, we would prefer the Family currently live in Delmarva or the nearby cities and towns (i.e., DC, Baltimore, Wilmington or Philly and southern NJ). Our donors prefer their money be used locally. But our donors are also very generous and will not accept Families from afar if you convince us that a Family further away is in great need and wants to make the move.That said, we seek:
- Families using a flexible definition that may include married couples, parents, siblings, good long term friends, and preferably lots of kids who will fall in love with our towns
- Warriors with significant disability ratings from visible and/or invisible Combat wounds and/or Service connected injuries that are causing the Family to live mostly on fixed disability incomes or are greatly reducing Family income and increasing living costs because the Warrior and/or the adult partner cannot work to his/her full potential.
- Currently carrying financial burdens preventing them from qualifying for mortgages on their own. They will typically be paying high rent and/or high car loans, or living under the burden of high costs from the size of a Family not realistically compensated by the VA or Social Security. We expect the Family may have bad credit ratings caused by bad debt or current debt payments higher than they can bear for long. We’ll assess, with our financial experts, on a case by case basis, if we can realistically assist them become “mortgage ready”. In most cases we can. We are not automatically precluding Families that currently own a home that is financial unsustainable, but freeing Families from “high rent – high car loan prisons” will get priority
- Permanent gross incomes at this time of at least $22K (i.e., this is lowest level any of our Partners considers viable) and less than 64K (i.e., highest level for which we can secure loans from a variety of sources with special terms to help a Family in need). When we have resources, we will also consider assisting Families with higher gross incomes to become “mortgage ready” and apply for their own mortgages.
Next Steps for Selecting Families To Earn A Home Here:
- You: Prescreen candidates based on the criteria discussed above, and have them contact Bill Gay for an initial phone screening before 20 January if possible..
- We will:
- After a discussions with the Family to understand their needs, wishes, capabilities and current housing situation, we will ask them to review their financial information and credit report with us. Working with our financial experts we will have a good sensing in a few hours if a Family can become a candidate. We will protect all personal, health, and financial information.
- If the Family wants to participating in our program, and our quick financial review reflects manageable challenges, we will move on to a more comprehensive evaluation including having the Family visit here to tour with a potential Mentor Team
- We will strive, in less than 90 days, to sign an Memorandum of Understanding with the Family that assigns responsibilities and sets a timeline which we mutually agree. (A MOU is a voluntarily, good faith driven document.)
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org