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Outreach offers evacuees help finding homes

Shelter is a necessity and the people at the Hale Empowerment and Revitalization Organization, or HERO, hope to provide the ultimate gift to Hale County families.

This year the HERO Housing Resource Center, a Greensboro-based non-profit housing organization, received a $20,000 grant to provide housing counseling for the more than 18,000 people in Hale County.

The funding is courtesy of the nationwide Housing Assistance Council, or HAC, and will be used to help Hale families gain home ownership.

“Many of our families have had difficulty unraveling the red tape involved in accessing assistance. We’ll work with these families to make sure they are aware of everything they’re entitled to,” HERO Housing Resource Center director Pam Dorr said. “We are committed to supporting Hale County and displaced families recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. With the support and technical assistance from HAC, we can make a difference for our rural families.”

Dorr said there will be counseling opportunities lead by state certified housing counselors dealing with home-buyer education, financial literacy education and home repair workshops. In addition, Dorr said the staff will provide other help depending on the needs of citizens.

HERO’s focus of the program is to promote home ownership in the county because that is how rural families grow wealth, Dorr said.

“We’re working to make homeownership possible for more families by establishing a new self-help program,” Dorr said. “We’re trying to develop this new program and we want to be the first to have it in place.”

There will be two new self-help program opportunities with different background funding, in attempts to have something to suit everyone in the county, Dorr said.

“There is the rural development self-help programs and the community development self-help program,” Dorr said. ” When families contribute their own labor to help build their home, their own ‘sweat equity’ lowers their mortgage costs.”

“Rural communities across the Gulf Region have lost a lot as a result of the hurricanes,” executive director of the HAC said. “Rebuilding theses communities will depend on the skills and dedication of local groups like HERO Housing Resource Center. This grant will help the organization do what it does best, assist low-income families to secure decent, affordable housing.”

“If anyone needs assistance with their FEMA claims we can definitely help them,” Dorr said, “but this program is open to everyone in Hale County. If your dream is to become a homeowner, we would like to help you.”

For more information, contact HERO at (334) 624-0842.