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Candidates needed for weatherization, credit help and foreclosure rescue

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By Laura Clark

Multi-Purpose Community Action Agency needs applicants for its weatherization, credit management and foreclosure rescue programs.

An influx of grant money, more than half a million dollars, has given MPCAA the ability to help more people in need throughout Shelby, Spencer and Bullitt counties.

General qualification standards are based on sliding-scale poverty guidelines. For example, a 4-person household can make a gross monthly income of no more than $3,676.

MPCAA wants to see people helped and funds utilized as the Community Service Block Grant provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act runs through Sept. 30, 2010.

“As time goes by, we’ll see how these programs are performing, and we’ll either reallocate the money or create new programs based on need,” said Executive Director Kim Embrey Executive Director.

Credit Management When Amber Eubank wanted to work toward buying a house, she had to take a few steps back and look at her financial situation. She was a single mom who had filed for bankruptcy.

Debora Fox was able to help Eubank reestablish and learn to manage her credit. Fox, of Credit Correspondence Services of Kentucky, partnered with MPCAA to serve people who otherwise would not be able to pay for her services.

Fox worked with Eubank to straighten out glitches on her credit report that shouldn’t have been there after bankruptcy.

“Sometimes, if you try to do that on your own, it can be very hard,” Eubank said. “And it would have taken a lot longer to do.”

Fox doesn’t settle debt, but she can dispute with credit agencies. She sees herself as a coach when it comes to money issues, helping people to track expenses and set up a budget.

“Bad credit is a temporary setback,” Fox tells people. “It is going to take some patience and some diligence.”

Eubank has currently been paying on her student loans to reestablish good credit. She’s on track, she says, to making a better future for herself and her daughter.

Fox works with individuals through many processes, from foreclosure issues to savings.

“It’s been awesome for me,” Fox said. “I’ve been able to reach people who really need the help.”

Weatherization

JoAnn Newton lives in northern Bulllitt County with her daughter and three grandchildren. MPCAA came out last winter and inspected her home for heating and cooling efficiency. Then a contractor made improvements to bring down heating bills that averaged $200 a month.

“He did several things to the furnace to fix it,” Newton said. “We did get more insulation put in our attic. They weather-stripped the back door and side door. I could tell a difference. I think it will be even more so in the wintertime.”

Newton was impressed when MPCAA sent follow-up inspectors to make sure the adjustments were done correctly. All the work was done at no cost to Newton.

“I have told everybody I know,” she said. “They did a wonderful job.”

Weatherization can reduce energy bills by as much as 32 percent. And it’s not just for homeowners but landlords as well if the tenants meet the income qualifications.

Foreclosure Rescue

MPCAA has joined forces with the Housing Partnership in Louisville to save people from losing their homes to foreclosure. MPCAA refers families to the Partnership or the Partnership checks to see if families qualify.

In Spencer County, court records showed 133 foreclosures. In Shelby County, 233 foreclosures have been filed this year.

“They’ve not slowed down,” said Shelby County Judge Charles Hickman. “This has been a trend that’s been going on for at least the last 18 months.”

So far, two homes have been saved in Shelby County through the MPCAA program.

“Almost no one has rescue funds available for mortgages,” said Julie Van Shuren of the Housing Partnership. “This is a great opportunity for the three counties.”

The Housing Partnership works directly with lenders to re-negotiate terms based on the homeowners financial situation.

For example, Van Shuren said, money provided by MPCAA can go toward loan modification or toward back payments that would catch up a homeowner. The big key is that homeowners must be able to continue to make adjustments after receiving funds.

“We go through the full counseling intervention with them,” she said, adding advice for people who are facing foreclosure. “Don’t leave your home. We may be able to help you. We can’t help everyone, but those that we can we’d like to be able to reach.”