Some solid support from the Mon Valley Initiative’s Housing Counseling Program and five years of effort helped create another homeowner in Swissvale this past October.

“We just kept sticking to the plan and everything came together for us,” said Clarence E. Nesbit Sr., an Army veteran and new owner of a home on Woodstock Avenue. “I’m proof that if you want a house, you just have to keep working to get it.”

PROUD NEW HOMEOWNERS—Sharon Nesbit and Clarence Nesbit Sr. show a picture of the new home they bought on Woodstock Avenue in Swissvale. The couple was aided in their purchase by housing counseling they received through the Mon Valley Initiative.

Nesbit began his journey from renter to homeowner in October 2005 when he and his wife, Sharon, met with Mike Mauer, MVI’s NeighborWorks Certified Housing Counselor. As he has done with scores of other clients during the last six years, Mauer provided guidance and information about mortgage lending to help develop a workable action plan with the couple. By following the plan, the Nesbits became mortgage-ready and bought their home.

“No two action plans are the same—just like no two people are the same,” said Mauer. “That’s why some of my clients are able to qualify for a mortgage in months while others may take a little longer.”

As a housing counselor that receives grant funding through the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, Mauer’s job is to work with each client on their credit reports, income, savings and other information normally used in qualifying for a mortgage loan. Then—together with each client—an action plan is developed. If followed, the plan will eventually lead the potential buyer to qualify for a mortgage.

Mauer also educates clients about the best mortgage products that are available and applicable to the client’s needs. He also walks each program participant through every step of the loan process from application to closing.

The only cost to the client associated with the program is a $10 fee that covers the cost of obtaining a copy of their credit report.

The Nesbits were also helped in their purchase by qualifying for a low-interest home mortgage loan through the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. These loans can sometimes offer additional down payment and closing cost assistance to eligible homebuyers.

Mauer noted that since the Nesbits first enrolled in MVI’s program a half-decade ago, mortgage interest rates have decreased tremendously.

“Nearly all of the first-time homebuyers loan programs that I’ve encouraged clients to use come with interest rates that are about half of what they were six years ago,” said Mauer. “For most of these programs, the general requirements to qualify such as credit scores, income, debt ratios and down payments have stayed pretty much the same.”

For the Nesbits, the lower interest rates they received will help make their Swissvale home more affordable.

“Nobody thought that interest rates would fall so low and that wasn’t something we worked into the action plan,” said Mauer. “But it certainly helped.”

Like the Nesbits, future homeowners are welcome to schedule individual appointments with MVI’s housing counselor.

Anyone who is interested can also get information on newly constructed and fully renovated homes MVI currently is working on through the Mon Valley.

There is no requirement for any potential homeowner to purchase an MVI home to participate in the MVI Housing Counseling Program. For more information, call MVI’s housing counselor at: 412-464-4000 x 4008 or visit

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