To answer the call of its mission to overcome poverty, Blue Valley Community Action offers more than 30 programs in a nine-county area in southeast Nebraska. Services offered range from thrift stores and WIC administration to emergency aid for veterans and child care.

An area of primary focus for BVCA is housing. The organization owns and/or manages 200 units of low-to-moderate income housing throughout its service area. In addition to providing housing directly to clients, BVCA also offers a number of programs to assist homeowners, and prospective homeowners. These include:

• Down payment assistance.

• Owner-Occupied Housing Rehabilitation.

• First-time home buyer education.

• Home weatherization services.

• Housing counseling.

BVCA’s Housing Department has identified expanding its Housing counseling program as a priority in 2018.

Launched in June of 2016, housing counseling provides one-on-one guidance to prospective home buyers. Counseling helps buyers to get their credit and finances in a strong position as they prepare to purchase a home. The service is provided at no cost to the client.

Why housing counseling?

Simply put, there is a need.

Blue Valley Community Action is guided by its leadership team and board of directors. They, in turn, are informed in part by surveyed information from BVCA’s service area, as well as across the state of Nebraska.

In the 2016 Community Action of Nebraska State Regional Community Assessment report, being unable to get a loan and poor credit ratings were respectively the third and fourth most common reasons for not owning a home, both statewide and in BVCA’s service area.

The 2016-2017 BVCA Comprehensive Needs Assessment identified poor credit/no credit as the second most significant barrier to self-sufficiency in the service area.

The housing counseling program goes straight to the root of those issues, helping clients identify what they need to do to repair their credit and qualify for a home loan.

How does it work?

Housing counseling is available for anyone in Butler, Fillmore, Gage, Jefferson, Polk Saline, Seward, Thayer and York counties, regardless of income.

When an interested party calls or walks through the front door, BVCA will schedule a confidential face-to-face meeting between the client and one of three NeighborWorks-certified counselors in the Housing Department. The meeting will be in a private space, and the counselor will obtain basic information about the client and the client’s need. The counselor will also secure a copy of the client’s credit report.

The housing counseling process includes, but is not limited to:

• Designing a plan on behalf of the client, explaining the plan and obtaining consent to carry it out, including the actions the client must take.

• Referring the client to other resources in the community, and assisting in arranging appointments with those resources.

• Monitoring client progress.

• Maintaining at least monthly one-on-one contact, through email, phone conversations or face-to-face meetings.

Presently, BVCA is one of only two Department of Housing and Urban Development-approved housing counseling agencies in the state of Nebraska, and the counselors are working on earning certification through HUD, to go along with the NeighborWorks certification. To enroll, contact Donny Murdock at 402-729-2278.

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