MANNA’s 5th Annual Homebuyer Fair and Job Tour took place on May 14, 2016. The event sought to bring homeownership opportunities and resources to D.C. residents in Wards 7 and 8. This year, MANNA partnered with Training Grounds, an organization that “helps young adults and adults with the training necessary to obtain and maintain living wage careers.” Training Grounds focuses on creating jobs in and for residents from Wards 7 and 8, an area that is severely lacking in job opportunities. MANNA and Training Grounds have partnered on several initiatives in the past, including last year’s Paint the Block event to clean up an area in the Ward 7 neighborhood of Deanwood and equitable banking advocacy. Union Temple Baptist Church, just off of MLK Ave. SE, served as the venue for the event, providing the perfect setting for outreach to the community.
Some of the businesses and organizations who brought their knowledge and resources to share with event participants included Capital One, HPAP, Anacostia River Realty, Housing Counseling Services, Prince George’s Community College Workforce Program and Casey Trees, among many others. Many visitors were able to talk one-on-one with the vendors, enabling them to receive advice that was catered to their own personal needs and questions. MANNA staff were also present at the Homebuyer Fair to discuss opportunities for getting involved with our Homebuyer’s Club (HBC) and Housing Advocacy Team (HAT).
MANNA volunteer and homeownership expert, Frank Demarais, held a “Pathways to Homeownership” workshop at the fair to discuss personal and housing finance. Demarais covered topics like credit management, budgeting, and mortgage readiness. The presentation also discussed the value of good credit when pursuing homeownership and strategies to maximize credit. Highlighting homeownership as the number one wealth builder, the workshop was an in-depth example of the type of programming MANNA offers through the Homebuyer’s Club. MANNA’s newest HBC chapter, the Ward 8 Homebuyer’s Club, has made our homeowner education and financial counseling more accessible to residents of Ward 8.
With a prevalent lack of homeownership and job opportunities available to residents in Wards 7 and 8, MANNA and Training Ground’s collaboration at this year’s event is one example of the type of work we would like to provide and build upon. It’s about respect, connecting folks to education, resources and community, and supporting people and neighborhood power. By providing homeownership education/resources and job training, while also partnering with local residents and initiatives, MANNA and Training Grounds plan to continue supporting Wards 7 and 8 to move forward and empower themselves.
Ruth Bordett is an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer at MANNA.