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Posted at 12:03 PM ET, 06/04/2012

D.C. Housing Expo offers assistance to home buyers and home owners

Jocelyn Johnson came to the D.C. Housing Expo on Saturday planning to give Mayor Vincent C. Gray a piece of her mind. Worried about losing her home, she intended to tell the mayor that he needed to do more to help people like her.

But before Gray arrived, Johnson stopped by the information tables of District agencies as well as nonprofit organizations. She was thrilled to learn there were people who were willing to work with her to keep her home.

 “I had no idea D.C. would help me do anything. Who knew they did something good?” she said. “I’m just floored. . . . I’m going from one Santa Claus, to another to another.”

 Now in its fourth year, the expo sponsored by the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development and the Greater Washington Urban League is a one-stop bazaar for people interested in buying a home, keeping a home, repairing a home or dealing with a troublesome landlord.

Maudine R. Cooper, president of the Greater Washington Urban League, said she hopes people take away from the expo that they can buy a house, even in today’s market.

 “There are programs,” she said. “People are ready to help. [Potential home buyers] need to understand that housing is their biggest asset.”

 Besides stopping by the information tables, Johnson attended a workshop on home restoration and learned she might be eligible for financial assistance to make those repairs from the government.

 “If D.C. could help, I’ll stay put,” she said.

Monique Hall was coming out a room where attendees could obtain their most recent credit report.

 “I was pleasantly surprised” by the score, she said.

Hall, 36, rents in Southeast and has a 2-year-old child. She wasn’t sure she could afford to buy a home. She had been working two jobs, but is down to one. Her goal is to buy a home, and after learning more about the programs available to her, it just might be possible. 

 “By next year, hopefully,” she said.

Cooper said the biggest issue in today’s market is affordability. “People want what they can’t afford,” she said, adding there are plenty of affordable houses in the District.

 “We don’t have enough people coming to buy these houses,” she said. “People are scared” of their economic situation deteriorating.

 For those who missed the expo, the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development (202-442-7200 or dhcd.dc.gov) and the Greater Washington Urban League (202-265-8200 or www.gwul.org) can offer assistance at their offices.

By  |  12:03 PM ET, 06/04/2012

 
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