Expanding Opportunities for Homeownership
At Frontier Housing, our mission is to provide affordable housing solutions to build better communities in northeastern Kentucky. One of these solutions—one that we’ve successfully implemented for decades—is the construction of new homes for sale to low- and moderate-income homebuyers. We use a variety of financing tools to accomplish this mission and these tools have evolved with the shifting needs of the homebuyers and communities we serve because we understand that what worked 40 years ago doesn’t always work as well today.
In the past 20 years, fewer phenomena have had a greater impact on our communities than substance abuse. In the 1990s and early 2000s, we saw the impacts of methamphetamines even as the seeds of the opioid epidemic were being sown. That epidemic has drastically changed our communities, with individuals and families struggling emotionally, psychologically, interpersonally and economically with addiction and its consequences.
As Frontier worked throughout this time to prepare people for homeownership with credit counseling and homebuyer education programs, we started to see a pattern. We found that many people committed to long-term recovery from addiction had credit repair needs that were very difficult to address and the solutions that had worked in the past weren’t having the same results. People would work with our credit counselors for months, and would often raise their credit scores some, but couldn’t recover enough to be ‘bankable.’
We came to believe that many of these customers just need someone to give them a chance to succeed. After working with several individuals going through different stages of addiction recovery, we found that the people who were coming to us were willing to put in the work to be good homeowners and competent lending candidates. The problem was that current credit and debt standards aren’t always designed with second (or third, fourth, etc.) chances in mind. So we decided that if these customers weren’t conventionally ‘bankable,’ then Frontier would need to be the lender willing to take the risk.
Through RECLAIM, our new Recovery Lending Assistances Improvement program, we have the opportunity to meet housing needs in the recovery and reentry community. The program requires individuals to go through at least nine months of credit and debt counseling through Frontier, to show a commitment to the goals of their credit repair program and raise their credit score by at least 50 points, at which point they receive loan through RECLAIM to achieve their homeownership goals.
Having worked with individuals in recovery over the past few years, we think that offering these simple and achievable requirements will give many families an opportunity for homeownership that otherwise would have been out of the realm of possibilities. Reflecting on this program, Frontier’s CEO Tom Manning-Beavin said, “Stepping out in faith like this, and taking a calculated risk by investing in the futures of people in long-term recovery, is exactly the kind of community impact Frontier is proud to offer. Our homebuyers are our partners, and through them we are building brighter futures for northeastern Kentucky. Launching the RECLAIM program allows us to partner with more people in the recovery community.”
“Homeownership is one element which can truly cement the ability of people in long-term recovery to reintegrate into society and reclaim a life of dignity and purpose for themselves and their families,” said Gene, a Frontier homeowner in long-term recovery. Gene came to Frontier as a single father after 18 months of sobriety. Today, he has regained custody of his son and is pursuing a master’s degree in Public Administration, all while living his dream of being a homeowner thanks to Frontier Housing and the work he was willing to put in to make that happen.
This program will give parents a chance to give their children a stable place to live, provide an energy efficient home that fits into each household’s budget and facilitate a very important change of scenery for many who have been stranded in substandard housing situations due to their credit and debt issues. We are so excited to begin using this program for our customers and cannot wait to see our first RECLAIM homeowners reach the ultimate goal of homeownership in a few short weeks.
“Being able to become a homeowner is a feeling that I never dreamed could ever be possible. The fact that I will be able to give my children a home means more to me than words can convey. I never thought I would even get clean, however the best thing about this life is that it can change in one moment. Don’t sit around and wait for it to happen. Stand up and be the change. Be your own hero.” Randall Craft, Director of the Ashland Outpatient Addiction Recovery Center, in long-term recovery and a future Frontier homeowner through Frontier’s Mutual Self-Help Program. Craft will be one of the first homeowners to a loan through the RECLAIM program for his home.
If you would like to learn more about RECLAIM or Frontier Housing you can reach them by phone at (606) 784-2131 or create an account online at www.frontierky.org.