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Program aims to make home ownership more accessible

LAPLACE — Home ownership is now more accessible to St. John the Baptist Parish residents through a program offering non-repayable down payment assistance and up to seven percent of the final home loan amount.

The parish has entered into a cooperative endeavor agreement (CEA) with Capital Area Finance Authority to offer CAFA’s Home Ownership Program to residents who may not otherwise be able to realize the dream of owning a home.

CAFA partners with approved mortgage companies who work with potential borrowers to finance a home, according to parish Economic Development Director Stanley Bienemy. He said CAFA shares loan production fees collected with the parish for loans that are closed each month.

He added the CEA was required in order for CAFA to offer its grant programs to St. John citizens.

CAFA Lending Program manager Kristin Delahoussaye emphasized the program comes at no risk to the parish, even in the event of defaulted loans.

“We work with lenders and realtors,” she told council members during a council meeting this past Tuesday. “The program helps with closing fees and down payments.”

Applicants must have a credit score of at least 640, a debt-to-income ratio of no more than 45 percent and meet certain income criteria.

Delahoussaye said the program could also be used to purchase a second home.

“This program will help residents (purchase their own homes),” Parish President Jaclyn Hotard said.

For more information on the program and how to apply visit http://www.thecafa.org/homebuyer/programs/.

In other news, the delayed Phase II of the Reserve Drainage Project has been completed, ending after the completion of Phase 2. The project came in nearly $250,000 under the original estimate, allowing for the installation of additional culverts, which will improve drainage in areas of Garyville and Reserve.

“It’s such a great improvement to those areas,” Hotard said. “It looks so much better.”

Capital Projects Administrator Daron Cooper called the completion of Phase 3 “the last piece of the puzzle” for the large drainage project.

The administration was also authorized to execute a contract with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Office of Public Health for the Strategic National Stockpile Cities Readiness Initiative grant. The agreement allows the parish to participate in a collaborative planning initiative for mass dispensing response capabilities and to foster regional partnerships.

Travis Perrilloux, interim director of Emergency Preparedness, said the agreement allows for antibiotics and other infusion type medicines to be rapidly dispensed when needed. He said the parish already has mass dispense sites identified.