Di Betta family is Medford's first success story under a federal program for first-time home buyers

After six years of saving, the Di Betta family finally owns their own home ' and they say a heap of thanks goes to all the agencies and programs that helped them with planning and financing.

It really helped to think in terms of setting a goal and thinking how to get there, said Lori Di Betta, sitting amid boxes and stacked furniture on moving day Monday.

The family of five closed last week on a &

36;140,000 four-bedroom, two-bathroom home on Howard Avenue in Medford, with help from the Jackson County Housing Authority, ACCESS Inc., Rogue Valley Community Development Corp., People's Bank and the city of Medford.

I call them our poster family for all our different housing programs, said Louise Dix, Medford's neighborhood resource coordinator.

She said it's the first success story for a first-time home-buyers federal grant program in Medford, which provides a &

36;15,000 no-interest loan for a down payment to be paid back when the homeowner sells or refinances.
Dix said area housing prices are so high that no one who qualified for the grant could afford to buy a home in the first place.

We were ready to can the program and say this isn't going to work here, said Dix.

Jean Paul, 53 and Lori, 42, have been Section 8 renters with Jackson County Housing Authority for 10 years. In 1997, the couple and their three home-schooled children (Joshua is now 18, Logan 16 and Olivia 14) started a family business, and in 1999 they began a family self-sufficiency program through Jackson County Housing Authority so they could work toward home ownership.

Lori Di Betta said the program helped the family set aside &

36;7,500 for escrow.

The &

36;15,000 grant to help with the down payment came from a community block development grant through the city of Medford, which ACCESS administers. Additionally, the Di Bettas are the first recipients of a new Housing and Urban Development program, the mortgage voucher, which subsidizes their mortgage payment. The voucher pays &

36;500 of their &

36;837 monthly mortgage payment, said Lori Di Betta. As their income increases, they will pay more and be subsidized less. The voucher, which lasts up to 15 years, is administered through the Housing Authority of Jackson County.

Christie Van Aken, coordinator of the family self-sufficiency program of the Housing Authority, said the Di Bettas, whom she describes as sharp and motivated, are the ones who made it happen.

I, if anything, just helped them gel their long-range goals together, she said.

The Di Bettas began searching for a house in their price range, said Lori De Betta. They could find none in suitable condition.

Then came another first.

The Rogue Valley Community Development Corp. had a house for sale. RVCDC purchased the house on Howard Avenue with community development block grant funds last year for &

36;147,000. The agency rehabilitated the old house to modern standards, said Bill Brandsen, site supervisor at RVCDC. Due to lot-line misinformation, RVCDC was not able to split the lot and build another house, as planned, so they sold it to the Di Bettas.

Judi Robinson, a loan officer at People's Bank of Commerce in Medford, said she put together a loan which is 4.95 percent at a 30-year fixed rate for the Di Bettas.

I was just excited to be a part of it, she said. They're just a good, deserving family.

For more information on resources in the community for housing assistance, contact Christie Van Aken at the Housing Authority of Jackson County by calling 779-5785, or call ACCESS Inc. at 245-9586.