Section 8 to Homeownership program success in Yonkers

On March 20, 2003, the Municipal Housing Authority for the City of Yonkers, in cooperation with the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB), the Hudson Valley Bank and the Yonkers Financial Bank, issued a mortgage to Elaine Benitez, a single mother of an eighteen year-old son, Osvaldo Claro. Ms. Benitez, who has been a Section 8 (Housing Choice Voucher) recipient, is an Accounts Payable Specialist in a White Plains natural energy company.

As a way to control housing costs, improve her living environment and to build equity, Ms. Benitez has actively sought homeownership for nearly a year. She has long realized the importance of maintaining a strong credit history and used her credit sparingly. Her participation in homeownership counseling guided her through the home inspection process, loan application, and obtaining legal assistance. The Yonkers Homeownership Initiative, including her participation in the Section 8 Homeownership Program, has enabled Ms. Benitez to achieve homeownership of a 2-bedroom condominium in Yonkers.

There are approximately 20 public housing households ready to participate in this homeownership program. Presently, households are being pre-qualified for the program and at an appropriate time will be linked to a buyer's agent to look for homes (condominiums, cooperatives and single family homes) in Yonkers. The Authority hopes to bring 8 to 10 households to homeownership within the next 24 months. Due to the high cost of homes, the Municipal Housing Authority looks to collaborate with other funding sources to enable participants to become first-time homeowners. For example, in Ms Benitez's instance, the Yonkers Affordable Housing Office and Community Housing Innovations provided the down payment and closing cost assistance.

The Authority had officially been voted in as a nonmember mortgagee under the Federal Home Loan Bank system. By this action, the Yonkers Housing Authority became the first Public Housing Authority in the nation to receive such designation. Though the process took close to two years to accomplish, the impact of this decision will have significant impact for the public housing authority in their effort to increase homeownership opportunities amongst its public housing residents. This is in addition to the approval received from HUD as a HUD/FHA mortgagee. The Yonkers program can serve as a model throughout the country for others to gain access into the FHLB system.

Content Archived: March 07, 2011