Housing counselor Jill Burch honored

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Steve Huffman
Jill Burch said she takes pleasure helping others realize their dreams.
“I know I’ve accomplished my work when I help others accomplish their goals,” she said.
Burch, a native of Salisbury who still lives here, is a housing counselor with Wesley Community Development Corp., a Statesville-based nonprofit that’s sponsored by the United Methodist Church. The organization helps low-income homebuyers.
Burch recently received the Outstanding Individual Counselor Award as presented by the Association of Housing Counselors. The presentation came during the group’s annual meeting in Greenville, S.C.
Burch was recognized for “demonstrating extraordinary excellence in housing counseling.” She was selected from among hundreds of counselors who were eligible for the award.
The fact that Burch was tabbed for the honor is all the more commendable considering she has been employed by Wesley Community Development for only two years.
“Counseling low-income homebuyers can be frustrating,” said Roy Helm, president of Wesley Community Development. “It’s particularly noteworthy that Jill received the award during the most challenging year in recent memory in the housing industry.”
Helm said Burch’s role is about more than just qualifying borrowers for loans. It is also, he said, about counseling individuals on credit issues and educating them about what it takes to become a homeowner.
As Burch described her work, “I help resolve credit issues.”
In addition to being low-income, Burch’s clients are all first-time homebuyers.
Wesley Community Development is similar to Habitat for Humanity, with the organization’s volunteers helping build houses in three developments ó one in Troutman and the others in Olin and Yadkinville.
The organization works to generate loans through nontraditional sources. Gap financing and deferred mortgages often help those first-time buyers secure loans.
In some cases, portions of the financing don’t have to be repaid, providing the buyer remains in his or her house a minimum of five years.
Burch said the job of housing counselor is relatively new, with counselors certified by the state.
She said her goal for the past year was to qualify 12 individuals for home loans. She was successful.
Helm said that while Burch’s goal was doable, it was also a challenge. He said the organization works to make sure all potential buyers are ready for the responsibility that comes with home ownership.
So far they’ve been successful. Wesley Community Development was founded in 2002 and has sold 56 houses. None have been foreclosed upon.
“We’d rather see people succeed as homeowners than put people who aren’t ready in houses just so we’ll meet our goals,” Helm said.
Burch is a graduate of Salisbury High School who attended Livingstone College. Before going to work for Wesley Community Development, she was employed by Salisbury’s First Legacy Federal Credit Union, formerly Rowan-Iredell Area Credit Union.
Burch has three grown children. In the past, she has been active in Salisbury’s Juneteenth celebration and active in local African-American genealogical research.