Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Northwest Business Council Promotes Local Lending

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Northwest Business Council Promotes Local Lending

Article excerpt

Byline: MAC MITCHELL

The St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce Northwest Business Council held a lunch meeting on March 27 at the Maywood Retreat Center, with the primary focus of educating local lenders, bankers and realtors about the county programs that are in place which provide assistance to working, middle-class families looking to purchase a new home for the first time. The core element of the meeting was an informational panel consisting of Bill Lazar, Dana Moore and Jacquie Parrillo, who spoke about various aspects of how county assistance programs are able to provide help for potential homeowners in a variety of ways.

Lazar is the executive director of the St. Johns Housing Partnership, a private, non profit organization committed to promoting safe, decent and affordable housing within the county. According to their Web site, the organization does so by creating links between the public and private sectors on projects that create low- and moderate-income housing, rebuilding neglected homes and neighborhoods, thus benefiting disadvantaged areas and enhancing community economic and social development.

One of Lazar's main points was the importance of working with a local lender when buying a new home. Lazar said, "A local lender provides a face you can talk to, and a boss above that you can complain to. A lender half-way across the country is harder to hold accountable." He also pointed out that the Housing Partnership offers credit counseling for families who are coming close to having to foreclose on their property. "If someone has a problem, we don't want them to call the number posted on a tree for 'We Buy Houses.' Instead we want to see them get in touch with one of our credit counselors who can refer them to a local bank which can help them solve that problem."

Moore, who is the administrator of the St. Johns County Home Ownership Program, followed Lazar by discussing numerous assistance programs. According to Moore, many federal and state aid programs were completely uncoordinated, all with different guidelines and requirements. …

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