MRPC News Release

For immediate release
July 13, 2017

For more information, contact
Savannah Vandegriffe at (573) 265-4200 Ext. 132 or
Linda Hollandsworth at 573-265-4200 Ext. 128


Lisa Hilliker stands outside her home in Steelville, MO. Hilliker was able to close on her home through the Phelps County Public Housing Agency Section 8 Homeownership Program in April of 2017.

Steelville resident purchases home with help of Phelps County Public Housing Agency

STEELVILLE—With the help of Phelps County Public Housing Agency (PHA) and the HUD Section 8 homeownership program, Lisa Hilliker was able to close on a home in Steelville, MO. Hilliker said it was one of the hardest things she’s had to do, but she was just trying to make a home for her children and survive.

“I sat in the parking lot for half an hour and cried to build up the courage to swallow my pride and go in and admit that I couldn’t not care for my own family without help,” Hilliker said. “But you have two choices in life. You can either curl up in a ball and say, ‘I’m done,’ or you can just keep going. We’ve chosen to just keep going.”

The Phelps County PHA homeownership program works much like the rental voucher subsidy program, but instead of applying the money toward monthly rent, the program allows first-time homeowners to use the voucher subsidy to meet the monthly mortgage payment and other homeownership expenses. Hilliker, who has two children ages 16 and 18, applied for the Section 8 Homeownership program in October 2016. Approximately three months after applying, PHA staff contacted her and told her to begin looking for a house. After looking at several homes, that were either too small, too expensive or wouldn’t pass inspection, Hilliker found the perfect house with a bedroom for each of her children and space for her cats. She explained that the process to find a home that would qualify for the program is a tedious one.

“People don’t have an idea of the hoops you have to jump through,” Hilliker said. “We had to apply, then wait for approval. Then we had to find a house that was the right size and would qualify. We had to pass three inspections, which was great because then you know you are getting a good house.”

Hilliker says now she just wants to give back when she can and let other people know that there is help out there.

“If I hadn’t investigated, I would have never known these programs existed. I had no idea,” Hilliker said.

Linda Hollandsworth, Phelps County PHA housing program manager, says that all 18 of the individuals who have completed the homeownership program have been dedicated to the process of purchasing a home.

Eligibility requirements for the program are:

  • Applicant must be a first-time homeowner or not have owned or had ownership interest in a home in the past three years;
  • Must meet minimum income requirements;
  • Must have been continuously employed on a full-time basis for one year, except in the case of elderly or individuals with disabilities;
  • Must attend and complete homeownership counseling; and
  • Must have previously been on the Phelps County PHA rental assistance program.

Applicants are responsible for securing their own financing and voucher funds can not be used to assist with financing costs such as down payment, closing costs, etc. The maximum term of assistance is 15 years if the mortgage has a term of 20 years or longer and 10 years in all other case. The time limit does not apply to elderly or disabled households.

“Lisa was fun to work with because she was determined to make this possible,” Hollandsworth said. “She is a fantastic person, and she took the initiative on every aspect of the program and succeeded as a perfect example of how the program is supposed to work. The program is available to anyone on the PHA rental assistance program, who is dedicated and willing to take the steps to owning their own home instead of renting.”

Hilliker said it was just the right time to switch from renting to owning a home.

“When you’re renting, you are pretty much just throwing your money away. I am not getting any younger, and if I was going to do this, I needed to do it now. I’m just trying to make a home for my kids, my cats and some place to live when I’m old and falling apart.”

The Phelps County Public Housing Agency that provides rental assistance to over 750 low-income families in Crawford, Dent, Gasconade, Maries, Phelps (outside the city limits of Rolla) and Washington counties. The PHA also offers the homeownership program as well as the Family Self-Sufficiency Program where clients develop a goal-oriented, five-year plan that moves them toward self-sufficiency and independence from government programs. The PHA is located at 4 Industrial Drive in St. James with Meramec Regional Planning Commission providing staffing. For more information on any of the PHA’s programs, please call 573-265-4200.

Formed in 1969, MRPC is a voluntary council of governments serving Crawford, Dent, Gasconade, Maries, Osage, Phelps, Pulaski and Washington counties and their respective cities. A professional staff of 23, directed by the MRPC board, offers technical assistance and services, such as grant preparation and administration, housing assistance, transportation planning, environmental planning, ordinance codification, business loans and other services to member communities.

To keep up with the latest MRPC news and events, visit the MRPC website at www.meramecregion.orgor on Facebook at

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