Money's got to be tight for almost any young parent rearing three children.
For Candace Gleed, a single mother, much of her monthly salary goes to care for her 7-year-old son, who has cerebral palsy. The rest is sopped up by bills and other expenses.Cash for a house down payment? No way. Until a year ago, when Gleed learned of a West Valley City housing program that helps families become first-time homeowners.
Now Gleed owns her own home, replete with family pets, quiet neighbors "and a fenced yard for the kids to play."
The Gleeds are one of about 120 families who have bought homes in West Valley with assistance from the city's home ownership program, recognized this week by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for its merits.
"(West Valley's) housing authority is recognized nationally as one of the best," said HUD state coordinator John Milchick. "We look to them as a model."
City leaders initiated the program after noticing several of the area's once-attractive neighborhoods were slipping. Many of the older homes were being rented, others abandoned.
"We realized there's more pride in ownership than in renting," said city housing authority director Danielle Benson.
Enlisting HUD funds, West Valley's housing authority began providing would-be homeowners with grants up to $5,000 to assist with closing costs and a down payment.
"The majority of participants have moved into the older neighborhoods," Benson said.
To qualify, applicants must be first-time homebuyers with family incomes less than 80 percent of Utah's median incomes. Most grant recipients are also required to complete to a city-operated housing counseling course.
The grant doesn't have to be repaid as long as program participants don't sell, move or refinance with cash back during the first five years.
Gleed also took advantage of a city-sponsored program on home upkeep and remodeling.
"Without the program, I'm sure I'd still be paying rent somewhere," she said.