HOUSTON (FOX 26) — The City of Houston is working with Wells Fargo & Company, NeighborWorks® America and local network members to launch the NeighborhoodLIFT® program with a $6.1 million commitment to boost local homeownership.
NeighborWorks America network members Avenue, Fifth Ward CRC and Tejano Center will administer the $15,000 down payment assistance grants, determine eligibility and provide homebuyer education.
"Houston is a special place to call home, and this investment will help our local community of hardworking Houstonians with big dreams for the future,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. "We appreciate the efforts of Wells Fargo, NeighborWorks America and its local affiliates to bring the NeighborhoodLIFT program to Houston again and help put homeownership within reach for hundreds of households."
Interested homebuyers are encouraged to register beginning on Monday, March 4 at www.wellsfargo.com/lift to attend the free event scheduled on Friday, March 22, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturday, March 23, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Reliant Park, located at 8686 Kirby Dr., Houston. Walk-ins also are welcome while grants are available.
"The NeighborhoodLIFT program is another example of our commitment to Houston and our efforts to build better communities through sustainable homeownership,” said David Miree, Wells Fargo Texas lead region president. "The program will help hardworking families and individuals get on the path to achieve successful and sustainable homeownership.”
To be eligible to reserve a $15,000 down payment assistance grant, annual incomes must not exceed 80 percent of the local area median income in Houston, which is about $59,900 for up to a family of four. In addition, there are special parameters for eligible military service members and veterans, teachers, law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians, who can earn up to 100 percent of the area median income, which is about $74,900 for up to a family of four in Houston, and may obtain $17,500 down payment assistance grants.
"Wells Fargo is to be commended for its commitment to providing down payment assistance to homebuyers, whether or not they seek financing from them," said Marvalette Hunter, Mayor Turner's chief of staff. "This is an innovative approach and one that puts the emphasis on the need to increase the pool of qualified homebuyers. We hope that other lenders will follow suit and partner with the City of Houston to increase the supply of affordable housing. Houston is a great place to live and work and we want to make sure that everyone that desires to live in the city can afford to do so including our veterans, first responders, teachers and city employees."
Participating homebuyers can obtain mortgage financing from any participating lender. Approved homebuyers will have up to 60 days to finalize a contract to purchase a home in the city of Houston.
"This innovative public-private collaboration will create more than 290 Houston homeowners,” said Lisa Hasegawa, western region vice president with NeighborWorks America. "The required homebuyer education classes provided by certified professionals better prepare NeighborhoodLIFT homebuyers to achieve their goal of sustainable homeownership."
Approved homebuyers must be approved for home financing with an eligible lender and be in contract to purchase a home in the city of Houston. To reserve the full grant amount, participants buying a primary residence with the NeighborhoodLIFT program must commit to live in the home for five years.
"We’re ready to help more families become homeowners with the support of NeighborhoodLIFT homebuyer education and down payment assistance,” said Mary Lawler, executive director of Avenue. “We are pleased to join Wells Fargo, NeighborWorks America and our local partners to make homeownership more affordable, achievable and sustainable.”
In addition, Wells Fargo has committed $325,000 for up to 650 consumers to receive complimentary face-to-face homeownership counseling. Interested homebuyers can receive a voucher at the Houston NeighborhoodLIFT launch event that will provide in-person homeownership counseling at no charge with a participating HUD-approved housing counselor in Houston. The homeownership counseling grant program is a resource in addition to the homebuyer education required for a NeighborhoodLIFT down payment assistance grant.