Last week NKCDC was excited to help NeighborWorks America and the Wells Fargo Foundation launch another round of NeighborhoodLIFT, a homebuyer assistance program that provides a $15,000 grant for down payment and closing costs to eligible homebuyers in Philadelphia.
The press conference was held at the West Philly home of Roy Washington. Mr. Washington purchased his home through the first NeighborhoodLIFT program in 2013. Mary Campell, Director of Housing Services at NKCDC, was his housing counselor through the process.
“He didn’t have credit at the beginning, so I helped him build his credit,” Campbell said. “We used unconventional credit. He paid health insurance, he paid life insurance and utilities, so I got letters from them. We took out a secured credit card. Mr. Washington never missed a payment. After two years he got preapproval from the bank.”
At the same time, the first round of NeighborhoodLIFT assistance became available. Mr. Washington fulfilled the requirements, applied and was approved.
“I remember that if I stayed in the house five years I wouldn’t have to pay the money back, and we’ve done that,” Mr. Washington said. “We’ve been here eight years.”
Like the assistance Mr. Washington received, the new NeighborhoodLIFT grant is structured as a ‘soft second’ mortgage loan that is conditionally forgivable over the five-year term of the loan.
The borrower always receives $15,000 but in many cases will still need to come up with minimum investment and settlement costs.
To qualify, you must:
- Be an eligible borrower (see guidelines).
- Purchase an eligible property within the City of Philadelphia and occupy the property as your principal residence (see guidelines).
- Make sure all borrowers have a combined gross annual income below $54,000.
- Have a pre-approval letter from an approved NeighborhoodLIFT first mortgage lender.
- Complete 8 hours of homebuyer education from an eligible NeighborhoodLIFT homebuyer education provider like NKCDC, and have a certificate dated within the past 12 months.
Homebuyers who are approved must have a fully executed Agreement of Sale within 90 days of receiving their LIFT Qualification letter to receive the grant.