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City Plans to Make Homeowner Grant Program More Attractive to New Homeowners

At next week’s Council meeting, the City Council will discuss ways to expand the reach of the City’s homeownership program and further incentivize homeownership in the City

In 2005, the City Council established a homeownership grant program, known as the New Neighbors Program, to provide $5,000 in closing costs to buyers purchasing a single-family home in the City and agreeing to reside at the property for a minimum of five years.

The primary purpose of the program was to encourage the conversion of rental properties to owner-occupied housing, and eligible properties are currently restricted to properties that have been rented for a minimum of two years, properties in foreclosure or subject to a short sale, and newly constructed homes.

An amendment to the program in 2016 allowed City grants to be combined with the CPCUP homeownership grants for eligible properties.  CPCUP offers $15,000 grants to University of Maryland faculty and staff.

Buyers not subject to the New Neighbors property restrictions include City employees, police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians. All purchasers must execute a Declaration of Covenants with the City or repayment agreement with CPCUP.

Since the inception of the program, 69 grants have been provided for a total of $360,000 or approximately 4-5 grants per year.

To make the program more attractive to new homeowners, staff is recommending amendments to the program guidelines as follows:
1. Eliminate the requirement for a property to have been a rental for a minimum of two years except in cases where City funds are combined with CPCUP grant assistance.
2. Increase the grant amount for the purchase of a former rental property from $5,000 to $10,000.

[City of College Park]

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