Fresnans looking to buy a home could qualify for grants of up to $17,000 through a Bank of America program that offers down payment assistance and assistance with closing costs.
The Bank of America Community Home Ownership Pledge launched in Fresno in 2019 and has provided nearly $1 million to those in the Fresno area, according to Fresno and Visalia Area Bank of America President Mark Riley. Riley said about 250 homes currently for sale in the Fresno area are available for purchase with subsidies under the program.
As a member of A Fresno Housing Strategythe city of Fresno is working to connect potential buyers with Bank of America’s buyer assistance program while the city develops its own program that Mayor Jerry Dyer says could work in tandem with grants from the Bank of America.
“One of the hardest things, besides the cost of a house, is qualifying for the loan. And part of qualifying for a loan is having a down payment,” Dyer told a conference. press release Friday. “That will remove one of the obstacles.”
Home ownership has been out of reach for many who live in Fresno, in part due to systemic racism, contributing to the racial wealth gap. According to a 2022 California Realtors Association studyFresno County has a 23% affordability gap between black and white households.
Low wages in town also made it difficult for people to buy or even rent in Fresno as housing costs soared. Dyer said at the press conference that the average home price in Fresno is now $360,000. At the same time, rents have reached record levels.
A supply and demand analysis in the One Fresno Housing Strategy found that to meet community needs, about 8,000 single family home rentals need to be converted to owner-occupied homes for people earning around $60. 80% of the region’s median income. – which is around $32,000 to $66,710 in Fresno, according to the United States Census Bureau.
The One Fresno housing strategy noted that while about 1,700 affordable housing units are planned to be built over the next three years in Fresno, only 73 are planned for home ownership.
Dyer said raising awareness of the Bank of America program is one way the city is acting on recommendations from the One Fresno housing strategy.
He said the city is in the process of assigning a dollar amount to each recommendation and over the next two to three weeks will come up with program proposals, including a directed down payment assistance program. by the city, to the Fresno City Council.
The potential city-led program can allow people to apply for both the Bank of America program and the city program to ensure people can afford to become homeowners. Dyer also floated the idea that the city’s program could be used to help people pay off interest as federal interest rates continue to rise to fight inflation.
“I hear people say quite often that we need to put rent controls in place and we need to keep rents from going up,” Dyer said on Friday. “I can’t think of a better rent control than for people to own the house and have a fixed rate, 30-year mortgage on a house, and then build the equity in that house as well.”
Dyer said the city’s goal is to increase Fresno’s homeownership level to 60%, especially among communities that have historically been excluded from homeownership opportunities.
Deputy Mayor Matthew Grundy added that the city’s goal of increasing homeownership will impact future generations.
“Through secure, decent and affordable homeownership, children have the stability to learn, which leads to future employment opportunities, which ultimately generates generational wealth,” Grundy said. “And that’s what we’re here to ultimately encourage. I know personally, having gone from homelessness to homeownership, how radically owning or housing can change the trajectory of a life and future generations.
How the Bank of America program works
The community home ownership commitment includes:
- A down payment grant from Bank of America, which provides 3% of the purchase price or up to $10,000 for the down payment.
- An American Home Grant, which provides lender credit of up to $7,500 to be used for one-time closing costs.
According to Riley, none of the grants need to be repaid.
Applicants must plan to occupy the home, but Riley said it doesn’t have to be a person’s only home and the applicant doesn’t have to be a first-time home buyer.
Riley said people with an income of around $40,000 to $50,000 may be eligible for the full amount of both grants, while someone who has an income of $100,000 may be eligible for a portion of the grant.
How to register
To apply for the program and see what other down payment assistance programs are available locally, visit fresno.gov/oca. To see if a home qualifies for the Bank of America program, potential buyers can also visit realestatecenter.bankofamerica.com.
This story was originally published June 18, 2022 5:00 a.m.