Greg Lewis hoped to buy this two-bedroom house in the Hampton Heights neighborhood of Milwaukee. But a surprisingly low appraisal reduced how much a bank would be willing to lend, scuttling his plans. Lower appraisals are among many barriers to building wealth faced by Black Americans. Photo taken April 30, 2021. Credit: Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch
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During June, many agencies and community groups celebrate National Homeownership Month as an opportunity to educate the public.

With that in mind, here are some resources for homeowners — and for those interested in buying a home.

Homebuying webinars just a click away 

BMO Harris Bank is hosting a free virtual homebuying webinar from 6 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. on Monday, June 14. Click here to register. This and other sessions can also help people who worry they lack the financial means to buy a home. 

The webinars cover the homebuying process, eligibility for down payment assistance and other ways to prepare for homeownership. 

“Not only do we want to help people buy homes,” said Sang Kim, the regional president of BMO Harris Bank, “we want to help keep people in their homes.” 

Take Root Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Public Library also are offering free educational workshops in June, which take place over Zoom. 

The workshops are free, but advanced registration is required. 

Where can I get information on buying a home?

Housing Resources Inc., a nonprofit, offers home buying courses and counseling. You can call 414-461-6330.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers homebuyers resources for statewide residents.   

Homeowners with mortgages through the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority have access to multiple programs.

Acts Housing offers home buying classes as well as financial assistance to those who need it. 

What can I do if I am struggling financially?

Just like renters who fall behind on their rent, some homeowners have fallen behind on their finances during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are some resources:

  • Mediate Milwaukee (414-939-8800, apply@mediatemilwaukee.com) offers mediation for tenants, landlords, homeowners and lenders to help work through conflicts and come to agreements. 
  • Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee (414-727-5300) provides legal assistance to income-eligible tenants in disputes with landlords — and it helps homeowners, too. 
  • Legal Action of Wisconsin (855-947-2529) provides legal assistance to homeowners facing foreclosures, and it offers information on tenant-landlord relations. 
  • Social Development Commission (414-906-2700) can assist in issues with lead, weatherization and other housing-related issues. 
  • Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council (414-278-1240) can help homeowners protect themselves from mortgage and foreclosure prevention scams as well as from predatory home loans. 
  • Housing Resources Inc. (414-461-6330) provides counseling to homeowners and has programs to help people prevent foreclosure. 

Federal loan programs: Those with federally or Government Sponsored Enterprise-backed mortgages have protections under Congress’ CARES Act. Mortgage forbearance is available to those who request it. The CARES Act suspended foreclosures on many government/GSE-backed loans through at least June 30, 2021.

Those who are at risk of homelessness can find resources by calling 2-1-1 or text their ZIP code to TXT-211.

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PrincessSafiya Byers / Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

PrincessSafiya Byers is a Report for America corp member working as a staff reporter at Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service where she covers health, minority businesses, faith, jobs, housing and transportation. A proud Milwaukee native, Byers is a 2020 graduate of Marquette University. She has had internships with the Milwaukee Community Journal, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. Byers has also co-produced a community podcast and written for community newsletters.