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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Idaho program helps woman purchase first home

“It’s a dream come true,” said Lauri Moore at her new home in Rathdrum on Dec. 20. She is the first graduate of the HOPES program, which stands for Homeownership Promotes Economic Stability, offered by the Idaho Housing and Finance Association Home Partnership Foundation. (Kathy Plonka)

A 49-year-old Rathdrum woman is enjoying her first holiday season in a home she owns thanks to an Idaho Housing and Finance Association program that helps people bridge the gaps to homeownership.

Lauri Moore is the first graduate of the HOPES program – Homeownership Promotes Economic Stability – offered by IHFA’s Home Partnership Foundation. The foundation offers a 200 percent match on people’s savings of up to $2,000, giving them a total of $6,000 for down payments or, in Moore’s case, paying down the principal to make the mortgage more affordable.

“It’s a dream come true,” Moore said. “Owning a home was when you made it. Now I feel a little more equal.”

After buying the tan rancher with the two-car garage on June 26, Moore said she promptly planted 216 bulbs, painted the house’s walls “Kermit the Frog green” and rescued a greyhound – all things she hadn’t been able to do as a renter.

“When you rent a house you can’t paint unless you intend to repaint or you can’t paper unless you intend to repaper,” Moore said. “A lot of places don’t let you hang pictures. I like pictures on the walls. I’d have about 500 of them.”

She adorned the walls and bureaus with framed family photographs and has guest rooms decorated and ready for her grandchildren to visit. She wants to pull up the carpet and replace it with hardwood floors, reupholster her couch in a dusty purple and create an office for her small business digitizing embroidery patterns for clothes.

Before buying the home, Moore was receiving rental assistance through the federal Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program administered through IHFA’s Coeur d’Alene office. Her move from rental assistance into homeownership had the ripple effect of freeing up space for new families, who can spend up to five years waiting for rental assistance, said Maria Ortega, a spokesperson for IHFA.

Moore qualified for a $119,000 USDA Rural Development loan and was surprised to discover the mortgage on her 1,500-square-foot home was only $562 a month, just slightly more than the $550 she paid in rent for her 900-square-foot rental.

Because Moore received rental assistance, she qualified to participate in IHFA’s Family Self-Sufficiency program, which helps people become economically independent. The program administrators realized Moore was in decent financial shape, with a part-time job and income from Social Security disability.

She took classes on budgeting and an additional class for first-time homebuyers called Finally Home.

Moore said she didn’t know where she stood financially, even though she knew she had income and good credit.

“I lacked financial knowledge,” she said. “I didn’t know I could buy a home.”