Could funding to help 1st-time renters, buyers end in Rutherford County?

Photo: WKRN

RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – The housing market in Rutherford County is booming, but it’s also becoming much harder to afford to purchase a home or even rent.

That’s where the city’s community development department comes into play, helping first-time buyers and renters, but could that funding soon be ending?

The president’s budget proposal, if approved by Congress, would do away with Community Development Block Grant Funding.

Jacquelynn Nogueres is working a minimum wage job and can’t afford to pay $1,000-plus a month in rent.

“With my criminal background, it was also very hard because no one wants to rent to a felon these days,” Nogueres said.

Jacquelynn Nogueres (Photo: WKRN)

About a year-and-a-half ago, she signed up for the Doors of Hope program that helps women recently released from jail get their lives back on track.

The nonprofit receives Community Development Block Grant funding from the city of Murfreesboro to help people like Nogueres acquire affordable rental property.

“For my clients who may get a job, and glad to get a job, and working minimum wage, their entire take home pay for the entire month would probably not be enough to afford an apartment,” said Maridel Williams, the CEO of Doors of Hope. “In a housing market like what we have in Murfreesboro, where it’s not only pretty expensive, it’s a lot of demand. They are going to be at the very lowest rung of the ladder in terms of being able to qualify.”

The funding also helps first-time home buyers with up to a $10,000 no-interest, no- payment loan.

The city holds the mortgage and the loan only has to be paid back if the homeowner sells or refinances the home.

“Several years ago when we did our consolidated plan that’s required as part of our funding from the U.S. Department Housing and Urban Development, we became aware of the acute need of rental housing for low income housing in Murfreesboro,” said John Callow, City of Murfreesboro Community Development Director.

The city uses some of the funds for home improvement and rehab. Funds have also been used to purchase vacant lots for Habitat for Humanity homes.

But could this type funding meant to help low income and working class people be a thing of the past?

In President Donald Trump’s current budget proposal, Community Development Block Grant’s funding would be eliminated.

“It would be devastating for a lot of communities,” Callow said. “For us, that would be almost $750,000 that we are getting this year. That’s money that would disappear.”

This could mean bad news for nonprofits like Doors of Hope.

“If indeed that money goes away, I sure hope they are looking to find another way to fund this,” Williams said. “There is no way it can be overstated the need for this type of housing.”

And possibly leaving working class people like Nogueres out in the cold.

“For most of us that come out of incarceration we have nowhere to go,” Nogueres said.

The city announced it has set aside $200,000 to help nonprofits with affordable rental options.

The other Community Development funding for first-time home buyers and housing rehab is currently available on a first-come, first-serve basis.