Florida Program Offers Grants to Help Home Buyers
Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida has issued a grant program to help first-time buyers purchase Palm Beach homes. Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida is working in a partnership with Bank of America, who has set aside $22 million as part of their national initiative. The Miami-based organization is using the money they received for home buyer training and counseling.
Interested home buyers are required to take an eight-hour course on home ownership that covers topics associated with the purchasing process. Once complete, they meet individually with counselors to discuss their unique real estate objectives. The program is free, and once complete, allows buyers to take advantage of subsidies when they reach the point of purchasing a new home.
Many young professionals are realizing that it behooves them to purchase a home instead of renting and paying someone else’s mortgage. While inventory levels aren’t necessarily helping their cause, this program offers subsidies that greatly impact the amount they can spend on a home. One first-time home buyer was only pre-qualified to purchase a home up to $75,000, but after participating in the counseling and training program, he received a $40,000 county subsidy that enabled him to buy a $113,000 home. Over the past two years, over 4,000 people have attended the course, and approximately half of them have moved on to work with counselors.
Mia Batlle, chief development officer for Neighborhood Housing Services, notes, “Some will say ‘I’m just not ready for this’ after they see the steps it takes to become a homeowner.” And that’s precisely what the program aims to accomplish. Too many first-time buyers are enamored with the idea of owning a home, but don’t realize the financial responsibility involved. That’s part of the reason why the housing market fell to pieces, so this program is a way for interested buyers to obtain a candid overview in order to make an informed decision.
Back in July, Bank of America Charitable Housing Foundation announced it would award grants to non-profit agencies interested in building and renovating affordable housing, and offering foreclosure prevention services, counseling, other housing programs. Thus far, more than 650 non-profits have qualified for Bank of America’s assistance, and the reach is expected to benefit more than 31 million people. Other local grant recipients include Urban League of Broward County and Habitat for Humanity of Palm Beach County. Neighborhood Housing Services will start their next training course in Broward County on September 22.
Adds Germaine Smith-Baugh, president of the Urban League of Broward County “http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/broward/” “Our role is to ensure that the opportunity for home ownership continues to be seen as part of the American Dream.”
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