Knoxville man first in state to own home through Section 8

Last month, when 57-year-old Tim Tolle mailed in his last mortgage check, he achieved a lifelong dream of becoming a homeowner. Through hard work, sacrifice and assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 8 Homeownership program, he was able to pay off his 20-year mortgage in just nine years and become the first individual in the state to complete the program.

“It’s always been a goal and a dream to own my own home,” said Tolle. “I was always the kind of boy who they said would never own anything. I proved them wrong.”

“Because of his dedication to paying off his loan, Mr. Tolle is the first homeowner in the state to complete HUD’s Section 8 homeownership program,” said Jennifer Bell, Section 8 home ownership coordinator at Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation (KCDC). “This program is highly rewarding because we are able to give individuals like Mr. Tolle the tools and support to achieve their own dreams.”

The Section 8 Home Ownership program, managed locally by KCDC, which allows participants to utilize their voucher to supplement payments toward a 15- to 20-year mortgage. The first-time home buyer participants must have had a Section 8 rental voucher for at least one year; be employed for at least one year at a qualifying income-level or on disability; not in debt with a housing agency; complete home education training; and have a good credit score and adequate savings.

“It would have been twice as hard to own a home without Section 8,” said Tolle. “Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have made it. Jennifer Bell at KCDC gave me a lot of encouragement and self-esteem to push on. I owe her a lot of credit.”

In 2004, Tolle qualified for an interest-free home loan through the Habitat for Humanity Home Ownership program. He completed a year of courses from Habitat for Humanity in budgeting and credit improvement before qualifying for a home loan mortgage and selecting a three-bedroom home in South Knoxville.

Every month, the Section 8 voucher paid a percentage of the mortgage, and he was responsible for paying a smaller portion. Instead, Tolle put every extra penny he had into the house and matched the voucher payments to pay off the mortgage in less than half the time.

The KCDC Section 8 Home Ownership program currently has 62 individuals receiving mortgage assistance. Since it began in 2003, approximately 100 people have purchased homes through the program and are currently paying off their home loans or have given up the housing voucher and are paying independently. I am very proud of individuals like Tim who are working hard towards achieving their dream of homeownership through our Section 8 program.