KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — First-time home buying in today’s market isn’t always an easy process to navigate and an East Tennessee nonprofit is aiming to assist those who are Spanish speakers by offering education and empowerment. HomeSource East Tennessee leaders want Hispanics and Latinos to know they’re here to help.

“We are currently the only agency providing first-time homebuyer education in Spanish for those who are taking advantage of down payment assistance,” Laura Contreras, homeownership center manager at HomeSource, said on Tuesday. “All of the down payment assistance programs require education, and it is so important to get this in your native tongue — because otherwise it defeats the purpose and you don’t benefit (as a homebuyer).”

A report released earlier this year by states more than 600,000 Latinos bought a home with a mortgage last year — which was a 13% jump from 2019, according to a recent report by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals.

Contreras also shared how HomeSource East Tennessee provides additional services in Spanish so that potential homeowners are more knowledgeable in things like rent-to-own contracts and bad credit.

“We also provide assistance so that our community doesn’t fall prey to rent-to-own contracts that never end and are just bad for the buyers,” Contreras said. “We provide financial literacy courses, assist with credit repair and/or establishment of credit; work with the lenders in the area that assist foreign buyers.”

The group also administered CARES funds in order to currently help with the applications for the Knox Housing Assistance program; currently, HomeSource has more than 200 rental units that are not only energy-efficient (helps with utility bills) but are also for low-income and senior tenants.

Currently the HUD-certified nonprofit is the only agency this side of Nashville that has native Spanish speaking counselors, according to Contreras. And they want to help their community. To learn more about HomeSource, the link to its page can be found here.

For more Hispanic Heritage stories celebrating the history, culture and contributions of Hispanics and Latinos in East Tennessee, visit our Hispanic Heritage Month page and view the 2021 special program.