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PROJECT OPENS DOOR TO HOMEOWNERSHIP

SHARE PROJECT OPENS DOOR TO HOMEOWNERSHIP

Dreams still come true, at least for Kearns resident Mindy Dunn, who wanted to be a homeowner but didn't have the funds.

"I have always wanted to own a house," said the single parent, who has been renting a three-bedroom home in Kearns. "When you grew up and got out of school you were supposed to get married, have kids and have a house."As of Friday morning, Dunn is now the proud owner of a one-story house in Kearns after paying nothing down and $500 in closing costs. The monthly bill for the next 20 years will be $300 per month.

The dream could not have been transformed into reality without a little help from the American Dream Project and other "friends," who purchased and renovated the 60-year-old home.

This first-time project, designed to help a low-income Utah family purchase a house, involved efforts mainly from four Salt Lake entities and numerous businesses that either donated services, materials and appliances or sold products at reduced cost for the remodeling and landscaping.

The home, which is white with brown trim and sits in a seemingly quiet neighborhood, was purchased from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for $10,000 from funds raised by the Salt Lake Board of Realtors, which spearheaded the project.

Other "friends," such as the Home Builders Association of Greater Salt Lake remodeled and coordinated the major repairs on the home, while Valley Bank and Trust Company helped with the finances.

Dunn, who plans to move in around Aug. 1, first heard about the American Project in June after spotting an advertisement inviting those interested in owning the property to apply at a mandatory open house.

At the open house in June, she saw that the house was in terrible condition. Huge holes and broken paneling marred the walls. Windows were broken. Dirt, dead grass, and wildly growing bushes filled the backyard. And a funny looking "weed" grew into the laundry room.

"The carpet was all torn up. The stove and the fridge were gone," Dunn said.

Still, she filled out the necessary forms and crossed her fingers.

Ten prospective homeowners were randomly drawn and narrowed down to Dunn after the Rehabilitation Division of the Housing Authority analyzed the applications, checked qualifications and income levels.

By the following Monday, Dunn was informed she was the "winner" and the next day, she visited the bank.

Within a month, the house was remodeled, sporting a cleaner, finished look, and ready for its new owner. Dunn's 4-year-old son, Derek, took advantage of the thick new carpet and rushed around the house excitedly, pointing out his new room and deciding which cupboard would store his favorite breakfast cereal.

By Friday morning, Dunn, along with her 11-month old baby girl and blue-eyed son, walked through the 1 1/2 baths and three bedrooms, admiring the new look. The smell of new carpet still permeated the air.

"It's totally different," Dunn said with a giggle. "It's nice. It looks brand new. I can't wait to move in it."

One of the nation's top 50 remodelers, who also serves as Salt Lake's first vice president of the Home Builders Association, Eugene Peterson, toured the home, pointing out the new double-pane windows, bathroom fixtures, linoleum floors, stove and refrigerator.

The house also underwent a complete paint job and wall-bashing ceremony and the backyard was transformed into a safe, grassy play area with chain-link and white picket fences.

"Part of the American Dream is to have a white picket fence," Peterson said.

Dunn nodded in agreement.

"If I would (buy a house without the American Project), probably the only thing I could buy would be a HUD house, and that I would have to fix up plus pay the payments on it. But I didn't want to do that," Dunn said.

Once Dunn lives in the remodeled home for two years, she acquires the title to the home, allowing her the right to sell it, reaping the benefits of an "appreciated" house.