Monroe receives $110,000 grant to fight blight, boost home ownership

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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - JPMorgan Chase and the city of Monroe have launched a two-year pilot program to fight blight and boost home ownership.

Officials pose for a picture. (Source: KNOE)

Kristian Reed says she’s glad to be able to talk to people who can teach her how to go about buying her first home.

"Maybe this will be a good opportunity for me and my family, a new start and a new chance," Reed says. "I do want something for my children and for myself and for when I pass away, they'll be able to have something for themselves."

That's why Reed and others in Monroe are signing up for the new "Home in Monroe" program. The new 12-week course will take people through financial coaching and counseling to make sure they're ready for that big day.

"I'm proud that I'm out here doing this," Reed says. "Maybe I can have a better chance at life."

JPMorgan Chase is helping people in the city achieve that. The bank announced a $110,000 grant to help the city kick off the program.

Monroe site leader Tania Hilburn says it's a chance to help everyone realize the American dream.

"Home ownership, that's the American dream, and that's the mission of Chase Home Lending is home ownership,” Hilburn says. “This matches up perfectly with that."

Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo says the same, but he says the problem many people face is they don’t know how the process of buying a home works.

"There's a lot of people that don't know how to go about it,” Mayo says. “That's what this class, this workshop is all about."

While the program prepares new homeowners, it will also help the city fight blight in its older communities too. Mayo says it will help beautify Monroe and remove eyesores.

"We have torn down over 1,000 houses,” Mayo says. “We've partnered with other housing agencies to do some other things, but it's not enough. We have quite a bit of work to do, but this is an ongoing initiative, a step up to do something to fight blight."

Mayo says this new program will clean up the city and give people like Reed the chance at a better life.