NACA helps members place the pieces to homeownership.

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NACA Program Requirements

NACA primarily aims to help people with low to moderate incomes, but there are no income limits on participation. There is, however, a maximum purchase price for a home, and it can't be exceeded by any private funds in addition to the mortgage. You can go to NACA's Web site and plug in your zip code to learn what the maximum price is for your area. This requirement helps to ensure that the organization can focus on helping those who need it most. Most people participating in NACA are first-time homeowners, often people who wouldn't be able to buy a home without the agency's help.

The people participating in NACA's programs are called members, and they fall into three membership categories:

  1. Participating members are on the road to purchasing a home or exploring a refinance with NACA.
  2. Homeowner members have purchased or refinanced through the agency. These members are still entitled to counseling and assistance throughout the life of their NACA loan.
  3. Community members support the organization's mission and participate in advocacy efforts, although they may not own a home.

Membership comes with dues. Currently, participating members and community members pay $20 annually for services, while homeowner members pay $50 a month for five to 10 years. This fee is folded into the mortgage payment, and it funds the Membership Assistance Program, which is what homeowners turn to after the ink is dry on the mortgage. We'll talk more about this feature later, when we walk through the steps of buying a home with NACA.

To qualify for a NACA mortgage, you can't own any other property, so this isn't the way to your vacation home or a second property for rentals. You must also occupy the home for as long as you have the mortgage; NACA takes out a lien on the property as an enforcement measure. This reflects the organization's belief that people who own and occupy homes will have a greater stake in the success of their neighborhood and will lead the way in stabilizing lower-income neighborhoods.

Participation is one of the most unusual requirements of the NACA program. If you have bought a home before, chances are the last time you saw your mortgage broker was at the closing. Not so with NACA. Each year, members must complete five actions that further NACA's goals. These actions could include everything from stuffing envelopes to storming a shareholders meeting with the possibility of arrest.

If you're trying to decide if NACA is right for you, you can go to a workshop free of charge. Workshops, held regularly in the areas with NACA offices, are required four-hour seminars that teach participants about the group's mission and what they'll need to do to buy a house. After you attend the workshop and pay your dues, you can continue down the path to a NACA mortgage. We'll look at the other steps on the way to a new home on the next page.