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FAIRBANKS, Alaska – Despite spinal ailments and other health problems, Antonia Fandyzc was so excited about moving into her new house December 17 she spent the first night on the floor in a sleeping bag. Furnishing and decorating could wait, she figured. A coffee pot in the kitchen would do. The important thing was she now owned a 1,700-square-foot, three bedroom home in the North Pole. Her mortgage was the first to be granted under a pilot program that allows residents to use Section 8 rental vouchers to purchase a home. Northern Schools Federal Credit Union originated the loan. “It was awesome,” says Missy Olson, vp/real estate lending at NSFCU. “It’s probably one of the most fulfilling type of loans we’ve done.” Olson notes the credit union’s loan processor, Mark Lew, had worked with Fandyzc at a neighborhood low-income housing program. When he joined the credit union, Fandyzc began doing business there. Alaska Housing Finance Corporation advised clients about the new Section 8 home ownership program. Fandyzc was interested. Very interested. “We were actually working at it before the program was formally approved,” Olson says. “We were trying to get everything together.” Fandyzc was also preparing. Even before she actually applied for the mortgage, she completed counseling through Alaska Housing and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “This lady really, really wanted a home,” Olson states. Although many low-income first-time home buyers require a lot of help, “She kept up with that program and knew everything about it. She knew the program, she knew what her obligation was.” The pilot program specifically targets qualified families where the head of household or a spouse has a permanent physical, mental or developmental disability. A three percent down payment is required, with one percent coming from the family’s personal resources. Fandyzc contributed to a Home$tart account, and a matching grant through the Federal Home Loan Bank assisted with the down payment and closing costs. Eighty percent of the loan amount was provided through a low-interest USDA rural development loan. Twenty percent came from NSFCU. Fandyzc moved to Alaska to be near her daughter. She works part-time, and relies on a public van service to get to her job. Her new home is right on the van route. Although doctors have advised Fandyzc she may eventually need to use a wheelchair, she hopes the single-story home will postpone that day since she not longer needs to carry laundry or groceries up several steps. Alaska Housing expects 10 more closings in the next six months. Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, Anchorage, has also signed up to participate in the program. Nancy Bear Usera, spokeswoman for Alaska USA, notes the credit union offers 18 different mortgage programs, including several in partnership with Alaska Housing. Counseling, and getting people into the right program, is important. “That’s what we do,” Usera says. “Our mortgage company has offices throughout Alaska, and we have originators who are very conversant in all these programs. We provide the best information available to people who are looking for home ownership and work to get them into the right program.” [email protected]

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