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Homeownership is achievable

Center helps achieve the dream

The Homeownership Center Northwest helps revitalize homes and place families in them. Photo credit: Homeownership Center Northwest

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A 1989 standoff between soldiers and gang members in Tacoma's Hilltop neighborhood led community leaders to address the need for affordable housing.

"A study was conducted of the neighborhood, and it revealed that the number of absentee landlords created an abundance of depressed properties," wrote Christina Jarman, a loan advisor at Homeownership Center Northwest, in an email.

"This had a snowball effect of decreasing property values, and forcing those that had financial mobility to seek housing elsewhere."

To stop the avalanche, the Homeownership Center Northwest formed in 1993 and began renovating and restoring previously forgotten properties, bringing them into the affordable housing market.

"We're a nonprofit housing development corporation that builds and refurbishes homes in Tacoma, Lakewood and Pierce County," continued Jarman, an Army veteran and spouse.

"Our mission is to use homeownership as a tool for neighborhood revitalization."

In accomplishing its mission, the center helps first-time buyers and active-duty, retired, reserve and Guard members secure mortgage loans for their new homes.

"What is important to note is how the Homeownership Center differs from VA Loan Benefits," began David Puszczewicz, the center's executive director, in an email.

"We are often, much more advantageous."

He explained that the VA's Home Loan Benefits rules do not allow for additional financing paired with its zero down loans.

"We have second mortgage financing available so that our buyers can finance mortgages based on what they can afford, yet still buy a home that might be higher priced than what they qualify for with a lender," continued Puszczewicz. "This financing is sometimes referred to as ‘GAP' financing."

In other words, the "gap" is the difference between what the buyer qualifies for and the purchase price of the home. The Homeownership Center Northwest has a zero interest, zero monthly payment secondary financing to bridge that difference. 

The center helps potential homeowners with any credit issues, lender documentation and education to allow them to become and remain successful homeowners.

As of last fall, the Homeownership Center has placed 209 families into homes.

"The homes we sell are turnkey ready, with stoves, refrigerators and dishwashers," explained Jarman.

"Our objective is to ensure that a new homeowner will not be burdened with additional costs at the time of move-in."

Jarman pointed out that Homeownership Center Northwest uses its resources wisely to also place families into safe, energy-efficient homes.

"Based on our fiscal year 2019 numbers, 80 percent of our annual earnings go directly to the production and placement of homeowners," Jarman added.

"We work hard to serve both present and prior servicemembers and civilians."

The center offers free classes, workshops, individual mentoring and counseling services to prepare clients for homeownership eligibility, and it assists clients in understanding homeownership.

"We will soon include a formal revision to our census tracking to be better prepared to identify specific numbers of homeowners that have been successful in benefiting from our workshops, classes, counseling and mentoring services," concluded Puszczewicz.

"We're here to serve."

For more information, visit: or call 253.627.6560.

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