By Aaron Brachfeld - - - Douglas County’s Housing Partnership is a program which helps citizens without the means for a downpayment to afford a home. I spoke with Artie Lehl, the Loan Programs Manager about their program – which may be expanding to Elbert County, as well.
The Downpayment Assistance Program advertises that a person will require only about $1,000 of their own money as downpayment for properties under $300,000. The catch?
· Potential homeowners have to undertake an educational program and remain in their home for 10 years.
· They need to be at or below 80% of the area median income
The educational program is a 6 hour class provided every 3rd Saturday of the month. “The class covers everything from what to expect when applying for a loan, to all the ins and outs of a Real Estate Transaction, to the benefits and pitfalls of being a home owner. We also get into details such as the various types of loans available, down payment assistance options (not just for Douglas County), mortgage credit certificates, and best practices on selecting lenders and realtors,” said Lehl.
The majority of those taking advantage of the program are teachers, police officers, city workers and retail workers.
Lehl says that there are benefits of homeownership to the entire community. “Home Ownership is important both to individual families as well as local communities because it first and foremost creates stability. The family is more stable given that they have a fixed per month price on the cost of housing. They are also more stable because they now own a property that can yield them equity and hopefully help with long term expenses and savings. Home ownership is better for communities because it helps tie people to the communities in which they live. It generates revenue both for local business and local government, because people tend to spend their money close to home. Because of the ties it creates, home owners are more likely to get involved in civic matters, further strengthening the community.”
Why is it important to assist Low and Moderate Income families with Down Payment Assistance? Lehl says, “to truly create a sustainable community it is desireable to have people from all walks of life and all income levels living in it. As we've recently seen through the last recession, neighborhoods that were more diverse survived the recession better than those that were more homogenous. In a recession, economic stresses don't hit all income levels at the same time. If a community is made up of a variety of income levels then it is likely that foreclosure rates in that community will remain more stable. This helps to preserve property values which are important to both the individual home owner as well as the town or city that they reside in.”
It is better for the fabric of the community to have those that work there, also live there. “Even in higher cost areas you still have teachers, civil servants, and retail workers. Creating work/life balance for individual home owners helps to create healthy communities for all,” explained Lehl.
Lehl recommends other communities establish similar programs. “Down payment assistance is an excellent tool to accomplishing these goals as it doesn't require massive changes to zoning or the creation of low income communities. Rather, there is an integration of lower income homeowners that can create stable healthy communities and have no impact on the free market and housing values.”
Learn more at: http://douglascountyhousingpartnership.org/down-payment-assistance/