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NeighborWorks Home Partners turns 40 with focus on first-time homebuyers, families of color – Twin Cities



Kali Terry comes from a long line of renters. Shortly before the pandemic, Terry broke the mold twice — if not three times over — by buying a duplex off St. Anthony Avenue and Victoria Street in St. Paul’s historically Black Rondo neighborhood. The former union carpenter, corporate salesman and food truck entrepreneur has converted an attic space into a low-cost third-floor rental, positioning himself as not only an owner-occupant but also a landlord in charge of a triplex.

“That checked off two boxes — a first-time generational homebuyer in my family, and the first time I became a landlord, as well,” said Terry, who grew up in South Minneapolis but became familiar with the area going to Rondo Days growing up. The way he sees it, St. Paul — and the Summit-University area in general — are on the upswing after losing population in the ’60s and ’70s and gaining it back ever so gradually over the past 40 years.

Homeownership has “changed my entire trajectory,” said Terry, who rents out his two units at below-market rates to tenants with blemished credit or rental history. “I was paying more in rent than I am for my entire mortgage on a multi-family property. And from an equity standpoint, having this asset that creates wealth allows me to essentially provide housing and wealth creation for others.”

At NeighborWorks Home Partners on Dale Street, organizers of the nonprofit’s housing literacy classes and first-time homebuying programs are pointing to Terry as a success story — an example of how even during a recession and competitive housing market, new homebuyers can leverage grants and knowhow targeted to their situation to find affordable deals.

Terry was already closing on the duplex purchase when a housing adviser at NeighborWorks informed him about the nonprofit’s Fix-It program, through which he was able to secure a low-interest loan to renovate the attic into a livable space.

The Fix-It loan financed 80 percent of the renovation. Without that kind of backing, “there’s no way I would have been able to bankroll an entire attic conversion,” he said.


Sometimes, the biggest obstacle toward buying a home isn’t financial.

Renters often lack education about first-time homebuying programs that can help with down payment and closing costs, or they’re uncertain whether they can afford renovations.

Jason Peterson, chief executive officer of NeighborWorks Home Partners, said the Twin Cities is a unique housing market where rents are often higher than monthly mortgage payments for comparable properties. Yet many renters — especially people of color — still feel shut out from the possibility of home ownership.

NeighborWorks Home Partners is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, but the occasion is bittersweet. Housing advocates say they’re staring down race-based housing challenges that set the Twin Cities apart, and not in a good way, even during what many consider a national housing crisis. And it’s not just a question of rising home prices and low inventory, though those trends haven’t helped matters.


Overall, between 2000 and 2018, white homeownership in the Twin Cities region remained relatively stable at around 70 percent, according to the Urban Institute. Black homeownership declined in that time, falling from 31 percent in 2000 to 21 percent by 2018. That equates to a 50-point spread between Blacks and whites, and a 30-point difference between Latinos and whites.

Peterson said communities of color were especially hard-hit by the recession of 2008, including adjustable rate mortgages and other unscrupulous lending practices that cost many Black and brown people their housing, and they’ve never fully recovered.

“The homeownership disparities across the country are stark, but in the Twin cities they’re terrible,” Peterson said. “We’re one of the metropolitan areas in the country where in general it’s cheaper to purchase a home than to rent. That is still the best way to build wealth in our country. The average homeowner’s net wealth in the United States is $254,900. The average renter’s net wealth is $6,270.”

He added: “The recovery since the Great Recession (of 2008) has been predominantly based on homeownership. The recovery is really still helping people who own homes. That’s where the appreciation has been.”

Peterson has taken a more helpful message to the airwaves through segments on KMOJ, in the pages of InSight News, and wherever BIPOC audiences can be found. There are still opportunities for moderate-income renters to break into the housing market, provided they’re open to education, and in some cases, credit repair. NeighborWorks partners with the Minnesota Homeownership Center to provide one-on-one homeownership advising. That may include pulling savings and credit reports, determining how best to improve credit scores and an overall determination if homeownership is right for you.

“We sit down and look at each family’s individual situation,” he said. “For folks who are not ready to buy, we say that’s great. If you’re interested, let’s get you on a plan. It may take you a year. It may take you five years. For folks who are mortgage-ready, we look at the different products. Our goal is to have two out of every three people that we help buy a home be from a BIPOC community.”


For mortgage advising, he encourages renters to make sure they’re working with a HUD-approved counseling agency.

“The two biggest barriers we see for homeownership among BIPOC families is education and knowledge, and downpayment assistance,” Peterson said. “There’s still a lot of myths that you need to put 20 percent down and have a credit score of 700. We have a program we do called ‘Homebuyer Basics,’ and we bring the show on the road. We partner with different organizations so folks can get language-specific information.”

Among those products is NeighborhoodLIFT, a $15,000 downpayment assistance collaboration between Wells Fargo and NeighborWorks America that received a major boost in Minneapolis and St. Paul in February. Wells Fargo contributed $7 million and the Department of Treasury contributed $4 million in federal relief funds. Through that program, the nonprofit is currently helping some 60 families buy houses.

“We’re able to help folks put together competitive offers,” Peterson said. “They’re first-generation homebuyers who thought they wouldn’t be able to buy a home.”

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Are Sallie Mae Student Loans Federal or Private?



When you hear the name Sallie Mae, you probably think of student loans. There’s a good reason for that; Sallie Mae has a long history, during which time it has provided both federal and private student loans.

However, as of 2014, all of Sallie Mae’s student loans are private, and its federal loans have been sold to another servicer. Here’s what to know if you have a Sallie Mae loan or are considering taking one out.

What is Sallie Mae?

Sallie Mae is a company that currently offers private student loans. But it has taken a few forms over the years.

In 1972, Congress first created the Student Loan Marketing Association (SLMA) as a private, for-profit corporation. Congress gave SLMA, commonly called “Sallie Mae,” the status of a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) to support the company in its mission to provide stability and liquidity to the student loan market as a warehouse for student loans.

However, in 2004, the structure and purpose of the company began to change. SLMA dissolved in late December of that year, and the SLM Corporation, or “Sallie Mae,” was formed in its place as a fully private-sector company without GSE status.

In 2014, the company underwent another big adjustment when Sallie Mae split to form Navient and Sallie Mae. Navient is a federal student loan servicer that manages existing student loan accounts. Meanwhile, Sallie Mae continues to offer private student loans and other financial products to consumers. If you took out a student loan with Sallie Mae prior to 2014, there’s a chance that it was a federal student loan under the now-defunct Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).

At present, Sallie Mae owns 1.4 percent of student loans in the United States. In addition to private student loans, the bank also offers credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts to its customers, many of whom are college students.

What is the difference between private and federal student loans?

When you’re seeking financing to pay for college, you’ll have a big choice to make: federal versus private student loans. Both types of loans offer some benefits and drawbacks.

Federal student loans are educational loans that come from the U.S. government. Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, there are four types of federal student loans available to qualified borrowers.

With federal student loans, you typically do not need a co-signer or even a credit check. The loans also come with numerous benefits, such as the ability to adjust your repayment plan based on your income. You may also be able to pause payments with a forbearance or deferment and perhaps even qualify for some level of student loan forgiveness.

On the negative side, most federal student loans feature borrowing limits, so you might need to find supplemental funding or scholarships if your educational costs exceed federal loan maximums.

Private student loans are educational loans you can access from private lenders, such as banks, credit unions and online lenders. On the plus side, private student loans often feature higher loan amounts than you can access through federal funding. And if you or your co-signer has excellent credit, you may be able to secure a competitive interest rate as well.

As for drawbacks, private student loans don’t offer the valuable benefits that federal student borrowers can enjoy. You may also face higher interest rates or have a harder time qualifying for financing if you have bad credit.

Are Sallie Mae loans better than federal student loans?

In general, federal loans are the best first choice for student borrowers. Federal student loans offer numerous benefits that private loans do not. You’ll generally want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and review federal funding options before applying for any type of private student loan — Sallie Mae loans included.

However, private student loans, like those offered by Sallie Mae, do have their place. In some cases, federal student aid, grants, scholarships, work-study programs and savings might not be enough to cover educational expenses. In these situations, private student loans may provide you with another way to pay for college.

If you do need to take out private student loans, Sallie Mae is a lender worth considering. It offers loans for a variety of needs, including undergrad, MBA school, medical school, dental school and law school. Its loans also feature 100 percent coverage, so you can find funding for all of your certified school expenses.

With that said, it’s always best to compare a few lenders before committing. All lenders evaluate income and credit score differently, so it’s possible that another lender could give you lower interest rates or more favorable terms.

The bottom line

Sallie Mae may be a good choice if you’re in the market for private student loans and other financial products. Just be sure to do your research upfront, as you should before you take out any form of financing. Comparing multiple offers always gives you the best chance of saving money.

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Tips to do some fall cleaning on your finances



Wealth manager, Harry Abrahamsen, has five simple ways to stay on top of the big financial picture.

PORTLAND, Maine — Keeping track of our financial stability is something we can all do, whether we have IRAs or 401ks or just a checking account. Harry J. Abrahamsen is the Founder of Abrahamsen Financial Group. He works with clients to create and grow their own wealth. Abrahamsen shares five financial tips, starting with knowing what you have. 

1. Analyze Your Finances Quarterly or Biannually

You want to make sure that your long-term strategy is congruent with your short-term strategy. If the short-term is not working out, you may need to adjust what you are doing to make sure your outcome produces the desired results you are looking to accomplish. It is just like setting sail on a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. You know where you want to go and plot your course, but there are many factors that need to be considered to actually get you across and across safely. Your finances behave the exact same way. Check your current situation and make sure you are taking into consideration all of the various wealth-eroding factors that can take you completely off course.

With interest rates very low, now might be a good time to consider refinancing student loans or mortgages, or consolidating credit card debt. However, do so only if you need to or if you can create a positive cash flow. To ensure that you are saving the most by doing so, you must look at current payments, excluding taxes and insurance costs. This way you can do an apples-to-apples comparison.

The most important things to look for when reviewing your credit report is accuracy. Make sure the reporting agencies are reporting things actuary. If it doesn’t appear to be reporting correct and accurate information, you should consult with a reputable credit repair company to help you fix the incorrect information.

4. Savings and Retirement Accounts

The most important thing to consider when reviewing your savings and retirement accounts is to make sure the strategies match your short-term and long-term investment objectives. All too often people end up making decisions one at a time, at different times in their lives, with different people, under different circumstances. Having a sound strategy in place will allow you to view your finances with a macro-economic lens vs a micro-economic view. Stay the course and adjust accordingly from a risk and tax standpoint.

RELATED: Financial lessons learned through the pandemic

A great tip for lowering utility bills or car insurance premiums: Simply ask! There may be things you are not aware of that could save you hundreds of dollars every month. You just need to call all of the companies that you do business with to find out about cost-cutting strategies. 

RELATED: Overcome your fear of finances

To learn more about Abrahamsen Financial, click here

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How to Get a Loan Even with Bad Credit



Sana pwedeng mabura ang bad credit history as quickly and easily as paying off your utility bills, ‘no? Unfortunately, it takes time. And bago mo pa maayos ang bad credit mo, more often than not, kailangan mo na namang mag-avail ng panibagong loan. 

Good thing you can still get a loan even with bad credit, kahit na medyo limited ang options. How do you get a loan if you have bad credit? Alamin sa short guide na ito. 

For more finance tips, visit Moneymax.



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