Cynthia, you should definitely take the money you planned on using to pay your rent for a year and pay off the debt that is causing the credit issues. You and your husband are planning on buying in a year because you need to clear up your credit, but if you pay your rent for a year you will still have those credit issues. Every time you pay off something that's hindering your credit, your score goes up. If you focus on lowering your debt-to-income ratio and removing all of the derogatory items on your credit, you and your husband could be ready to buy in 6 months! I've had plenty of buyers I've worked with between 6-12 months and because they did exactly what the loan office told them, they were sitting at the closing table collecting the keys to their own home!
If you want information for down payment assistance there are a couple that I've used that my clients were very happy with:
1. Georgia Dream homeownership program: http://www.dca.state.ga.us/housing/homeownership/programs/RU
2. Atlanta Development Authority: http://www.atlantada.com/buildDev/HomeAtlanta.jsp
You can take the homebuyer education class at Resources for Residents and Communities of GA, 100 Flat Shoals Avenue, SE - Atlanta, GA 30316. 404.525.4130 x15
Good Luck and please feel free to contact me if you need help or have any additional questions.
BHGRE Metro Brokers