November/December 2008 issue

Project Home - E.D. of Missouri Probation Making Dreams Come True!

Shut your eyes for a minute and think back to the day when you first became a homeowner. Remember the excitement, the fear, the mountains of paperwork, and all the questions you had along the way? Most of us were fortunate enough to have friends and family to assist us in this complicated process.

Now imagine that you are a convicted felon. You have worked hard to find employment and now have a steady income. You have thought about purchasing a home, but you have no money for a down payment and have no money left over after you pay your rent, bills, and other necessary expenses. You have convinced yourself that home-ownership is impossible. Your family reinforces this belief since no one in your family has owned a home. Why should you be any different?

The U.S. Probation Office in the Eastern District of Missouri has a new mission. That mission is to show ex-offenders that home-ownership is possible, and to assist any interested ex-offender in realizing the dream of home-ownership by combining state and federal resources with an education about the process.

In September 2007, Project Home was launched and we began meeting with ex-offenders. To date, six ex-offenders have obtained homes! Two others are under contract and are expected to close on their homes by the end of January 2009. In addition to these individuals, over 100 others have participated in the home-ownership education program. Many are currently establishing or repairing credit with the goal of home-ownership in the near future.

Each of these new home-owners have a story. One was living in a hotel for over 18 months. One was living in a rented basement which had no heating or cooling system. One was sleeping on an air mattress in her sisterís basement with her husband and new baby. One was disabled and sleeping on his sisterís couch. The stories are endless, and Project Home is one program which makes a real difference.
,br> In November 2008, the Library headquarters in St. Louis provided the backdrop for a video which was filmed regarding Project Home. This video, which has gained national attention, highlighted the success of Project Home, its community partners, and those ex-offenders who have benefitted from the program.

If you would like more information about this program, contact me, Marty Thurman, U.S. Probation Officer and Project Home Team Leader, at (314) 244-6727.