Senator Troy Singleton and Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly | April 27, 2021 | Star-Ledger |
Homeownership has always been a symbol of financial accomplishment in our country. Oftentimes it has marked a rite of passage into “finally becoming a grown-up” when that purchase is made. Unfortunately for many, the American dream of homeownership is becoming more difficult to attain. It is especially hard for those just starting out on their own due to the challenges involved in saving up for the down payment.
As federal programs seek to shore up existing distressed mortgages to stabilize housing markets, the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency’s down payment assistance program (“DPA”) is a vital resource to help properties become homes for New Jersey residents who need them the most.
The DPA program makes housing affordable by offsetting $10,000 in down payment and closing costs for eligible first-time homebuyers. Eight out of every 10 beneficiary families earn less than 80% of the state’s median household income, with 5 out of every 10 families earning less than $62,000. The remaining 20% are at an income level equivalent to a household with two working parents, such as a nurse and teacher or sanitation worker, which reflects the fact that nearly half of all the participants benefiting from the DPA program in 2020 were essential workers.
Increasing access to homeownership is an important tool for neighborhood stabilization and revitalization. New Jersey families want to invest in the neighborhoods they call home. More than two-thirds of all families benefiting from this program move less than a short drive from their prior addresses, while 10% buy homes in the same census tract that they previously lived in. When families become homeowners, they put down roots, encourage private investment and upkeep of the housing stock, and pre-empt the displacement of rental housing that occurs if a neighborhood begins to gentrify.
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