|Five families in the tiny town of Millersburg in Bourbon County are on the cusp of transitioning from renters to homeowners through Community Ventures (CV) income-based Rural First-Time Homebuyer Program. These families —including a young couple just starting out and a buyer whose house must accommodate a family member’s special needs — will soon know how sweet it is to have a home of their own.
Jordan Hutchinson and his fiancé Elizbeth Boggs became Certified Nursing Assistants and worked side-by-side in a nursing home in Northern Kentucky throughout the pandemic. Although they lived nearly two hours away, the couple came to Millersburg every weekend to visit Elizabeth’s close-knit clan. But when they began searching for a home close to family, the 21-year-olds were quickly overwhelmed by the intricacies of the homebuying process and disappointed by the low inventory of move-in ready homes, most of which were priced well beyond what they could afford.
When Hutchison and Boggs discovered the Rural First-Time Homebuyer’s Program, they said it was a dream come true. CV has helped them navigate the purchase process and avoid the pitfalls that come with fixer upper homes by buying the house and performing the necessary repairs and upgrades so that everything—roof, foundation, plumbing, wiring and HVAC—is in top shape. CV will then sell the home to the couple, ensuring they don’t face unexpected bills as they begin their life together in their new home.
“We are thankful for this program because through it, the monthly payments are based on what we make and will be really affordable for us,” explained Hutchinson. “Community Ventures has given us a great opportunity by getting us into our first house. Our dream is to someday own a farm near here, and this house is an investment in our future. It will help us make that farm dream happen down the road.”
Boggs’ parents also worked through CV for the funding they needed to turn a fire-ravaged house into their own dream home, and Elizabeth says that for her, the best part is that her tight-knit family will be able to live in right around the corner from each other.
These couples aren’t the only Millersburg residents who have benefited from the Rural First-Time Homebuyer’s Program. Sheryl Bruner, a lifelong caregiver for her disabled sister Kim, has been renting a home since moving to Millersburg two years ago. That move followed the death of her mother and a series of unexpected events that left Sheryl and her sister with nowhere to go.
“Kim has a condition that causes severe challenges,” explained Bruner. “And with Kim, it’s not like we could live in my car. I was getting desperate, but when I called Community Ventures and told them our story, they helped us out right away.”
Moving from Lexington to rural Millersburg, Bruner fell in love with the people of the town and is now working through CV to acquire a home that meets her sister’s many special needs. Along with making all repairs and upgrades, their new home will be made handicap-accessible for Kim.
“We have come to love the town of Millersburg and our neighbors, and I look forward to putting down roots here,” said Bruner.
CV’s revitalization efforts in Millersburg, which began in 2016, included reimagining the historic Millersburg Military Institute, which is now an event destination known as Mustard Seed Hill. Having completed this project, the non-profit has turned its attention to another method of using place to solve problems – creating a renter vs. homeowner ratio indicative of a flourishing community.
“Homeownership is key to the strength of a community because homeowners typically take pride in their home and their neighborhood, which raises property values. They support local stores and services and are more likely to participate in local elections and community groups and they build relationships with their neighbors,” notes Millersburg resident and Community Ventures CEO Kevin Smith. “We encourage individuals and realtors alike to reach out for more information on how this program can open the door to successful homeownership—and the wealth-building that comes with it—to those who never thought it possible.”
While the town of Millersburg is an excellent example of what this initiative is meant to accomplish, CV is currently offering Rural First-Time Homebuyer assistance in six counties—Bourbon, Franklin, Jessamine, and Scott in central Kentucky as well as Fulton and Graves in the western part of the state. In addition to affordable interest rates and the peace of mind that they will be moving into a problem-free home, participants in the program can take advantage of CV’s homebuyer education and homeownership support.
CV’s Rural First-Time Homebuyer Program and other wealth creation initiatives for home and small business owners are made possible by the non-profit’s partnerships with the Kentucky Housing Corporation, NeighborWorks America, and the United States Department of Agriculture. This funding furthers CV’s work across the Commonwealth.
Kentuckians who meet the location, income, and household size qualifications below may qualify for the Rural First-Time Homebuyer Program. CV stands ready to assist these homeowners and welcomes realtors who work closely with Kentuckians who may be eligible to contact CV for more information.