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HUD helps unlock doors to affordable housing

Lawton_For some, working hard and saving money to one day live the American dream - owning a home - is just that, a dream.  However, on Thursday, volunteers from the Lawton community and city and state officials teamed up to take part in a program called "The Unlocking Doors Affordable Housing Initiative."  The program helps communities identify methods and practices that can be used to help low income families rent or own safe housing. 

The program requires help from the entire community - mayors, city council, and state representatives.  But, ordinary citizens have the biggest impact.  Director of Catholic Charities Timothy O'Connor says low income families shouldn't be expected to live in sub-standard conditions.  "Faith calls us to serve the poor, to address the needs of children and families," he says.  "Many families are struggling today with just the economics of trying to live and need subsidized housing.  If it's going to be provided as subsidized housing, it needs to be good, safe, and affordable for them."

Director for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Anna Farias says affordable homes and community outreach programs can change lives.  "I grew up in the housing projects," she says.  "I grew up, went to the East Coast and have managed to work for three presidents.  As far as affordable housing...if it had not been for that I don't know where I might have been."

Lawton Assistant Director for Housing and Community Development Tom Aplin says everyone benefits when families move from rental to home ownership.  "Being a homeowner, for one thing, gives you a stake in the community...makes you a part of it," he says.  "As a result you're going to be more supportive of your community, you'll be more active in your community and help to make it become a much better community overall."

Homeowners also pay taxes on their property, which in turn nurtures the development and maintenance of the city.  However, some single income families can only become homeowners through with the help of others.  "Obviously I would like to think of myself as a success story, but I didn't do it on my own," says Aplin.  "The government was there to help while my mom was cleaning clothes."

If you are wondering whether you qualify for Section 8 home ownership or rental, contact the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency at 405-419-8236, or visit their website at http://www.ohfa.org/.

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