Eight counties | 36 cities | one region

a voluntary council of local governments
serving the missouri meramec area.

Area family accomplishes homeownership dream through PHA program

For immediate release

For more information, contact
Linda Hollandsworth at (573) 265-4200

CUBA—For some, the path to the “American Dream” may be clear, but for many in today’s economy, the road to homeownership is more difficult to navigate. For one local family, that path included an innovative program offered by the Phelps County Public Housing Agency (PHA)—the Family Self-Sufficiency program.

“It can really help you prioritize what you need to do to get yourself out of any hole that you are in and get yourself back on track,” Cindy Humphrey said of the program while sitting in the living room of her newly purchased home just outside of Cuba.

Humphrey is surrounded by her husband, Paul, and two of their three daughters, Lauren and Nena—a 20-year-old with special needs who the couple credits as their true inspiration to own a home.

“We wanted a place for Nena,” Paul Humphrey said. “We wanted a forever home for her, a place she would always have.”

Cindy Humphrey explained that stability is crucial for Nena to thrive, and, although the family has lived in the new home for just a few short months, the young woman is already embracing the new knowledge that the family will always be in this space. Nena is excited to plant flowers and eventually a full vegetable garden and is satisfied with the knowledge that she now has her own private space in her own bedroom.

When the Humphreys approached the PHA, they were living in a home with faulty wiring and other safety issues, and needed a better environment for their family, but also knew that their ultimate goal was homeownership.

Participants in the FSS program pay a portion of their rent depending on their income. As those participants become successful in the workforce and begin to generate more income, the difference between their initial portion of their rent and their increased portion of the their rent is placed in an escrow account, and, upon graduation from the program, the contents of that escrow account are given to the participant.

In its last fiscal year, the PHA graduated four successful FSS participants with average escrow checks of $2,292.

Humphrey received several promotions at her job with Heartland Independent Living Center while on the program. She and her family used her escrow money for expenses associated with purchasing their new home, primarily as a down payment.

In order to graduate from the program, participants must meet certain benchmarks by accomplishing certain action items from a plan created by the participant with assistance of PHA staff. Humphrey noted this plan and the guidance she received from staff were key to her success.

To be considered for participation in the FSS program, the family must first be a participant in the HUD rental assistance program. To learn more about the rental assistance program, contact the Phelps County PHA by calling 573-265-4200. The PHA office is located at 4 Industrial Dr. in St. James. Housing assistance applications are accepted 8 a.m.-4p.m. the first and third Wednesday of the month.

Persons in Washington County can meet with housing staff and complete housing assistance applications from 9-11 a.m. the second Tuesday of each month at the Washington County Library, 235 E. High St., Potosi.

Persons may visit www.meramecregion.org and click on the Phelps County Housing Agency link to print an application, fill it out, and bring it with them to either PHA location. All adults must sign the application prior to submitting.

The Phelps County PHA is an Equal Opportunity Housing Agency that offers rental assistance to very low-income families in Crawford, Dent, Gasconade, Maries, Washington counties, and Phelps County, outside the city of Rolla.

The Phelps County PHA is governed by a seven-member board made up of the presiding commissioners of the six counties it serves and one program participant. The agency contracts with Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) to operate the program.

During the last fiscal year, more than 700 very low income families in the Meramec Region received monthly rental assistance totaling more than $2.6 million.

The PHA chairman is Dent County Presiding Commissioner Darrell Skiles. The vice chairman is Maries County Presiding Commissioner Ray Schwartze, and the secretary-treasurer of the PHA is Crawford County Presiding Commissioner Leo Sanders.