June 8, 2005
DOWNPAYMENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAM HELPS FIRST TIME HOMEBUYER ACHIEVE AMERICAN DREAM
CHELMSFORD, MA - On June 8, federal and local officials gathered to recognize a first-time homebuyer who was
able to purchase her home through a federal grant to help defray downpayment costs.
Liliana Lucas is a single mother of two who closed on her Chelmsford townhouse in Orchard Woods in April, 2005,
after she applied for and received $7,500 in downpayment assistance from the American Dream Downpayment Initiative, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and administered by the Merrimack Valley Housing Partnership. The ceremony included a presentation of a plant and an oversized ceremonial key to
the homeowner, who was smiling from ear to ear.
The American Dream Downpayment Initiative (ADDI) is a federal program that helps first-time low-income
homebuyers with the largest hurdle to homeownership - downpayment and closing costs. To be eligible for this assistance, individuals must be first-time homebuyers and must have incomes not exceeding 80 percent of area median income. In the Lowell Metropolitan Statistical Area, the area median income is $80,000. ADDI gives first-
time homebuyers downpayment assistance grants up to $10,000 or five percent of the home's purchase price, whichever is greater.
"Many families are able to make monthly mortgage payments, which in many cases are lower than rental payments, but are not able to save enough for the down payment and closing costs," said James Barnes, HUD's acting regional director. "With a little assistance, purchasing a home may be much easier than people think."
This year, HUD is awarding the commonwealth of Massachusetts $681,747 in ADDI funding. The Merrimack Valley Housing Partnership administers $150,000 of this federal program for the commonwealth in Chelmsford, Billerica, Dracut, Tewksbury, Tyngsboro and Westford. To date, 10 homeowners have closed on homes with assistance provided by MVHP, and currently four applications are pending.
"We have been administering a downpayment assistance program in Lowell for more than 10 years, and nearly
1,000 new Lowell homeowners have benefited so far," said Jim Wilde, executive director of the Merrimack Valley Housing Partnership. "This is the first time we have provided assistance in towns surrounding Lowell. It is a thrill
to be part of a collaborative effort which has such a positive impact on the community."
The ceremony was held in recognition of National Homeownership Month - a month-long educational outreach
effort designed to provide important homebuying information and financial tools, particularly to minority families.
The Census reports that, for the first time in our nation's history, more than half of minority families own their own home. But minority homeownership rates still fall well short of the national homeownership rate of nearly 70 percent.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as
well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet and espanol.hud.gov.
The Merrimack Valley Housing Partnership promotes homeownership opportunities for low- and moderate-income earners in the Merrimack Valley. Founded in 1986 in response to a severe shortage of affordable housing, MVHP's
main program is Project Genesis, a series of training seminars for first time homebuyers offered 20 times a year in Spanish and English. The key components of the home buying process are addressed by experts in the field:
getting a mortgage, signing a purchase and sale agreement, getting a professional home inspection, accessing
down payment assistance, creating a household budget, and understanding responsible home ownership. To date, more than 9,000 families have completed the seminars.