Former Army Sgt. Aaron Woods was all smiles Tuesday, as he and his wife, Jenny, signed the final papers and received the keys to their first home.
The 25-year-old, who served in Afghanistan and South Korea before getting out of the military last year, received the mortgage-free house through the nonprofit Operation Homefront. Three banks Chase Bank, Bank of America and Wells Fargo have donated 100 homes so far to U.S. military veterans through the Operation Homefront's Homes on the Homefront program.
The house that the Woods received in Meridian was the program's first in Idaho, and the 100th overall. A second Idaho home is being turned over to former Navyman Scott Simpson in Shoshone Tuesday, according to Mark Davison, a liaison for Operation Homefront. He was on his way from Meridian to Shoshone late Tuesday morning.
The three-bedroom home in Meridian had been completely refurbished with new paint, appliances and carpet. The Woods will have to pay property taxes, insurance, and homeowner's association fees; they will received the deed to the house in one to two years, after a transition period in which they receive ongoing financial counseling about becoming homeowners.
Both Aaron and Jenny Woods are students at Boise State University. He's studying computer science, and she's studying radiology. They go to classes on different days, so that one is always home to care for their 9-month-old daughter, Adeline.
"It's a really big deal for them, so they can concentrate on school," Jenny's mother said of what the house means to the young couple. Their new home is much larger than the Garden City apartment they've been living in. It will offer a quieter place to study and raise their daughter.
"The people upstairs had a fiesta last night," Jenny said of their apartment. The couple's new house also has a large deck and fenced yard for their Yorkie-Schnauzer, Trigger. The couple's first meal was already warming on the kitchen counter, as Jenny's great aunt left the family a crock pot with soup.
To qualify for the Homes on the Homefront program, you must meet these basic criteria: Active duty, Guard or Reserve, or have been honorably discharged; not currently own a home; and financially capable of sustaining the home throughout an initial transition period and beyond (taxes on the home and any homeowners association fees that may apply). Connection to the community is an important thing for matching families to homes as well.
Learn more about Operation Homefront online: www.OperationHomefront.net
Katy Moeller: 377-6413