Philadelphia increases help for first-time homeowners

Pat Loeb
May 09, 2019 - 5:33 pm
Philadelphia City Hall.

Holli Stephens/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia officials Thursday announced a new program that they say will help hundreds of residents become homeowners and will provide game changing help with down payments.
 
Philly First Home will cover six percent of the purchase price of a new home up to $10,000 for first-time home buyers. 

City planning director Anne Fadullon says that level of help will make homeownership accessible to some residents who might otherwise not quite be able to get there.
 
"To be able to offer that opportunity and access to that opportunity for so many more of our residents is just really, really exciting," Fadullon said. 

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The program is being funded with $3 million from the Housing Trust Fund, so up to 300 residents could benefit from it. To be eligible, you must have lived in the city for at least three years, be buying a house in Philadelphia and have a household income within 120 percent of the area median. 

Council President Darrell Clarke says the program helps people for whom homeownership might be just out of reach. 

"People that have the ability to actually pay a mortgage but simply aren't in a position to pay that downpayment," Clarke said. 

Beth McConnell of the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations says opening access to that group is vital to making the city's growth equitable.

"Ownership builds equity and it's often the only way for moderate- and low-income Philadelphians to build wealth, which can be passed down to their kids and grandkids. It changes families for a very long time," McConnell said. 

Councilwoman Cherelle Parker says it's one response to the gentrification that has put homes just out of reach of that group.

"Making sure that pursuit of and attaining the great American dream is accessible," Parker said. 

Not everyone is happy with the program, and some advocates think the money should only go to the very low-income and people with disabilities. 

Clarke says other parts of the Trust Fund will be used for that. It's not enough to fill every need, he says, but the Fund has grown to help fill many needs.