By Ariel Worthy
Times staff writer
Claudia Price did not think it was possible to even go through the homeownership process because of her income.
Adding to that, she has multiple sclerosis, which makes it difficult to find homes that accommodate her special needs. Sometimes she needs to use a wheelchair and in many homes doors are too small.
Price was among the several dozen attendees at last week’s Greater Birmingham Homeownership Learning Conference sponsored by Bancorp South, the Jefferson County Housing Authority (JCHA) and the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District (HABD).
The conference, at Birmingham Southern College, was open to the public. It featured workshops and attendees were able to go to sessions related to credit-building, insurance and home inspection and home maintenance.
Price said she began the process of homeownership with the help of Beverly Gaither, who is homeownership manager with the JCHA.
“She is very helpful, if there is anything I need I know I can call her,” Price said of Gaither. “If she doesn’t pick up, I know I can expect a phone call back soon.”
Price said the process of finding a home can be frustrating and “sometimes you just want to give up and ‘say I’m just going to stay where I am.’”
Gaither said everyone can do better and should not get discouraged by the difficulties of finding a home.
“It’s not going to happen overnight,” said Gaither. “It’s going to be a process, and you have to take it slow and steady.”
Price was at the conference to learn more about credit building in hopes of buying a home for her and her two sons.
“Now that I have talked to a lot of realtors, I’ve realized that I can [own a home],” said Price, 35. “I thought that was impossible, but I learned something new.”
“Homeownership is possible for anyone,” said Buffy Murphy, BancorpSouth Assistant Vice President. “I think a lot of people think that’s a nice goal to think about, but a lot of people don’t think the American dream of owning a home is possible.”
People of all ages were at the conference.
Eric Zinnerman, 27, and Brittney Roscoe, 26, attended because they want to buy a home in the next year.
“We really want to gather more knowledge on what we need to have ready to purchase a home,” Zinnerman said. “We want to make sure we are doing it right.”
Cynthia Bennett, 54, said she wanted somewhere safe to live.
“The place I’m living now is substandard,” Bennett said. “It has made me ill from the mold. Nobody needs to live like that.”