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New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development HomeFirst down payment assistance program will now offer up to $ 100,000 in assistance to qualified first-time homebuyers who purchase a home in New York.
“Raising the maximum amount we can provide to the buyer to 100,000 gives buyers more support and opens up more options for them in terms of what they can afford, how they can trade in the market and the neighborhoods they can try to find. access, ”said Tameka Spencer, director of the HomeFirst down payment assistance program with HPD.
The expansion more than doubled the amount of financial assistance available to first-time homebuyers, where $ 40,000 was the assistance offered. This will help families really enter the market and be competitive in buying, Spencer said.
“This major expansion of down payment support is a great victory for equity and diversity as it addresses one of the biggest barriers to homeownership for low-income families and families of color, “said The commissioner of the HPD, Louise Carroll, in a press release. “Positioning more families to own homes, create wealth for their children, and own their communities is a key strategy to achieving our vision of a more equitable New York City. “
Thanks to the improved program, more homes will become affordable for low-income first-time buyers, especially in the neighborhoods where house prices have historically made home ownership inaccessible to low-income families.
“Homeownership is really essential for us here at the agency,” said Spencer. “Our goal is to expand home ownership and create opportunities for New Yorkers to put down roots in the city, and we believe every New Yorker deserves a real chance to own a home and their chance. to increase the net worth of his neighborhood. ”
The expansion achieves a key objective of the Where we live NYC a fair housing plan to give low-income New Yorkers more housing options in affluent neighborhoods, said Jeremy House, spokesperson for The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
“We also see this as a matter of fairness because first-time buyers are more likely to be people of color“House said in an email.” So this is a strategy to build wealth in black and brown communities and provide housing opportunities in well-off neighborhoods. “
New York City historically has low homeownership rates, but according to a 2020 study by Brookings, these rates are even further behind for people of color.
“We see this as an issue of fairness because first-time buyers are more likely to be people of color,” House said. “So this is a strategy to create wealth in black and brown communities and provide housing opportunities in well-to-do neighborhoods.”
According to a study by Pew Research, Blacks and Hispanics also face additional challenges in obtaining home loans.
“The expansion will provide flexibility to homebuyers who could use it to secure better loan terms,” House said.
With HomeFirst, first-time homeowners with one to four families in the five boroughs can get financial assistance for the down payment or closing costs of a home.
“Eligible applicants can earn up to 80% of the region’s median income, or $ 86,000 for a family of three,” House said. “HomeFirst participants must take a homebuyer training course, save for the purchase, and live in their home for up to 15 years to receive the full benefits of loan forgiveness under the program. “
The people HomeFirst has helped
Jiawei Ren is a 29-year-old Asian-American immigrant who was able to purchase a home for the first time with the help of HomeFirst’s down payment assistance program. He became the owner of a one-bedroom co-op apartment in Briarwood, Queens on June 1.
During his seven years in the United States, Ren moved six times. Every time he moved, Ren had to update the immigration office with his new address.
“At first it was difficult because I didn’t understand English and didn’t know how to change the address online, so I used to visit the attorneys office to have them put it on. up to date, ”Ren said. “They often charge $ 100 for address updates.”
He was also worried that he would not receive important mail because his address changed so much.
“Renting doesn’t make me feel safe,” Ren said. Adding: “I really wanted to have my own place and feel at home after work.”
When Ren started looking to own a house, he realized he could only afford the cheapest apartment in town. After a Google search, he found an Asain community organization that told him about HomeFirst.
Ren found an apartment he qualified for based on his own savings. With the help of HomeFirst, he was able to renovate the entire apartment.
“I lived in a basement where there was no sun, so after moving into my own apartment, I can enjoy three bright windows,” Ren said. “I can bathe in the sun, the apartment is quieter, and it’s very convenient. I have my own mailbox and I have no problem paying for the utility.
Ren said this was the smartest investment he could have made, especially since he is now able to put his monthly income into a steady and growing asset and not waste his money. money in high rent payments.
Shivon Duncan, 39, bought his first home in Brooklyn on September 1. She has wanted to become a homeowner since she was a teenager.
Duncan is an eight-year-old employee of New York City Health and Hospital in Coney Island. She saved up to buy a house for ten. She took money out of her 401k and other savings to buy a house. She said she couldn’t have done it without HomeFirst’s help.
Duncan was inspired by her family to become a homeowner.
Duncan’s father moved to New York in 1970 from Grenada, a small island in the Caribbean. He worked for the metro and bought his first house in 1982. He bought his second house in 1990.
“Since then we’ve all been born and raised in a house, so that’s all we know,” Duncan said.
But Duncan has been renting for 10 years, while paying off student loans. With his loans almost paid off, Duncan was finally able to buy a house.
“It’s a great feeling,” Duncan said. “Your mortgage is less than what you would pay in rent, and it’s a better financial decision to own. ”
The HomeFirst down payment assistance program covered 50 percent of Duncan’s closing costs.
“It was a huge help,” Duncan said.
Spencer said HomeFirst’s down payment assistance program is helping more millennials discover and access help. The program also supports low-income singles and people in the public service industry, including transit workers and teachers.
“It’s the ordinary person who struggles to make home ownership a reality in the city, and we all know it’s very difficult, so we really help a wide range of people and families,” he said. Spencer said.
Advancing fair housing
New York City Neighborhood Housing Services administers the program on behalf of the city and is funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
With the new expansion, low-income buyers should be able to be more competitive in the market, Spencer said.
“Increasing homeownership opportunities for New Yorkers is a key goal for Mayor de Blasio YOUR NYC Home plan to help New Yorkers get, pay for and keep their homes, ”House said. “In addition to building more affordable housing, the City advances equitable housing by striving to ensure greater access to affordable, quality housing in a variety of prosperous neighborhoods.
Since the program began in 2004, HomeFirst has helped more than 3,000 homeowners in the five boroughs.
“Our hope is that this (the expansion) will encourage community investment and encourage people to plant roots and stay in communities,” Spencer said.