Campus News

UB program helps employees make a house a H.O.M.E.

UB employees David Youhess (right) and Blake Cooper stand in front of the new house on Niagara Falls Boulevard they bought through the UB H.O.M. E. program. Photo: Douglas Levere

By CHRISTINE VIDAL

Published November 21, 2016

“It feels like a neighborhood and a community to us.”
David Youhess, career counselor
Career Services

A house is now a home for UB staff member David Youhess, thanks to UB H.O.M.E. (Home Ownership Made Easy), a program that offers interest-free deferred loans to university employees who buy homes in the neighborhoods around the South Campus.

Youhess, 29, and his partner Blake Cooper, 30, are the first to take advantage of the newest UB H.O.M.E. initiative to help stabilize, revitalize and improve the quality of life in the neighborhoods near the South Campus.

Located on a quaint, brick-paved stretch of Niagara Falls Boulevard, he had driven past the traditional-style home built in the early 1930s each day on his commute from their North Buffalo apartment to the North Campus.

Youhess, a career counselor in UB’s Career Services office, and Cooper, who joined UB on Nov. 7 as an IT communications specialist in the office of IT Policy and Communication, had been toying with the idea of buying a house and this one “just has a kind of charm that we liked instantly,” he says.

In fact, they liked it so much that it was the first and only house they looked at.

“A lot of things just aligned,” Youhess says.

“It’s nice to be in close proximity to work and the brick road really appealed to us. There are some things we’ll want to do in the future, but the house really felt move-in ready.”

UB H.O.M.E., which Youhess had read about in UBNow, played a big role in their decision to become homeowners.

“It definitely pushed us to feel more ready and confident to contribute to the down payment,” he says.

Through UB H.O.M.E., qualified buyers are eligible for a combination of interest-free deferred and forgivable loans of up to $5,000 and $7,500, which can be used to help cover down payments and closing costs or for interest rate reduction. A significant portion of the loan will be forgiven by the university after five continuous years of owner occupancy.

Encouraging UB employees to become members of the community that surrounds the South Campus gives them a personal investment in the neighborhood, says Tess Morrissey, director of community relations.

“The university is deeply committed to the neighborhoods around the South Campus,” she says. “UB H.O.M.E. is an important step toward increasing home ownership in the University District by making it easier for UB employees to purchase a house in the neighborhood.”

The program also makes the details of buying a home easier.

“As new homeowners, both Blake and I were uncertain about the process. You don’t know what’s normal and not normal when you do this,” Youhess says. “There are so many moving parts. UB H.O.M.E. made it smooth and easy for us.”

It has also strengthened his relationship with UB.

A native of Eden and graduate of SUNY College at Geneseo, Youhess received an EdM from the UB Graduate School of Education in 2011 and, in addition to his full-time job in Career Services, is working on his MSW from the UB School of Social Work. He also has an internship with UB’s Counseling Services.

“I’ve been very committed to UB for many years,” he says.

And now his commitment extends to the neighborhood around the South Campus, a community that he shares with other UB employees.

“There’s something comforting and nice about moving into a home knowing your neighbors already, he says.

He and Cooper have found their new neighborhood to be a quiet and welcoming one.

“It feels like a neighborhood and a community to us,” Youhess says.

UB H.O.M.E. is funded on behalf of the university by the UB Foundation, which has made an initial investment of $100,000. A matching $100,000 has been provided by the West Side Neighborhood Housing Services Inc., a charter member of NeighborWorks America, a national organization specializing in community revitalization and development.

UB H.O.M.E. funding is available to full-time UB faculty and staff members. For more information, go to the UB H.O.M.E. website or call 716-885-2344.