United Neighbors announced last month that it raised $200,000 for its Davenport Real Estate Affordable Mortgage (DREAM) program, including a $100,000 challenge grant from Wells Fargo. For each dollar raised by United Neighbors from April 6 through October 6, Wells Fargo donated one dollar to the program, which helps low- and moderate-income individuals purchase and fix up homes.

Other donations included $40,000 from the Riverboat Development Authority, $25,000 from the Scott County Housing Council, $10,000 from Scott County Regional Authority, $10,000 from United Way, $5,000 from Mel Foster Company, $3,700 from Alcoa Foundation, $2,000 from Oak Helm Partners, and $4,500 from individuals and small businesses.

"There has been a severe decline in affordable housing in most of the nation's communities, and Wells Fargo Housing Foundation wanted to take a leadership role in helping to fix the problem," said John Stavnes, eastern Iowa president of Wells Fargo Bank, in a press release.

Sandy Fording, eastern Iowa spokesperson for Wells Fargo, said that her company has also helped to fund not-for-profit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity.

According to United Neighbors Assistant Director Paul Fessler, the $200,000 will provide down-payment assistance to 120 individuals and families.

Fessler said that Davenport has roughly 20,000 homes, and "over the last 12 years, the DREAM program has assisted in the purchase of 1,400."

Participants in the DREAM program need to complete home-buyer education classes and qualify for a 95- to 100-percent mortgage loan. Individuals must also meet income requirements. For example, a one-person household can make up to $31,150 and still qualify, while a family of four can make up to $44,500. Participants must also commit to live in these homes for at least five years.

"We think we have made a pretty big impact in making homeownership a reality," Fessler said.

In addition to United Neighbors, several other Quad Cities organizations have home-buyer assistance programs.

Jennifer Brown, loan officer at the Mississippi Valley Neighborhood Housing Service (NHS), said her organization specializes in loans to low- to moderate-income citizens in Scott, Clinton, and Muscatine counties.

According to Brown, NHS has serviced 250 loans to home-buyers over the past 24 years, including to people with poor credit or no credit history. The organization also refers clients to home-buyer classes at United Neighbors.

"We try to make sure that a person's house payment plus monthly credit debt does not exceed 35 percent of the debt-to-income ratio," Brown said.

Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation also offers home-buying assistance through a variety of programs.

"In general, they must be able to get pre-approved at a participating lender for a first mortgage," said Kristi Ramirez, housing director for Rock Island Economic Growth. "Our assistance helps with down payment, closing costs, and in some cases rehabilitation. The home purchaser must have $500 to $1,000 for their portion of the down payment plus approximately $500 for the first year's homeowner's insurance. ...

"Income restrictions vary within each program, but mostly range from 80 percent of the area median income to 120 percent."

Rock Island Economic Growth also offers credit counseling, home-buyer workshops, early delinquency intervention, and owner-occupied rehabilitation and outreach.

Rock Island Economic Growth has assisted with 222 home purchases since 1998, and has rehabilitated 15 owner-occupied residencies to help maintain current ownership.

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