Pilot program offers $25,000 in down payment assistance to address inequities and barriers to homeownership
PROVIDENCE, RI – Today, Governor Dan McKee joined RIHousing to announce the launch of a new pilot program, FirstGenHomeRI, aimed at helping to open the doors to homeownership for first-generation homebuyers. The program targets first-generation buyers by addressing inequities and barriers to homeownership while boosting the long-term, economic outlook for families who have historically not pursued homeownership. Available to Rhode Island residents currently living in specific areas of the state, the pilot program offers $25,000 for down payment and closing costs.
“Access to homeownership opportunities has significant implications for family outcomes,” said Governor McKee. “Down payment assistance programs targeted at opening the doors to homeownership to first-generation buyers can help reduce the racial wealth gap and are a down payment on our future: the future of Rhode Island families and their ability to live and thrive in our state.”
“First generation homebuyers deserve the opportunity to put down roots in Rhode Island and benefit from the stability owning a home can provide,” said Lt. Governor Sabina Matos. “I’m honored to stand with Governor McKee as we make this announcement and support an effort that addresses the inequities and barriers to homeownership that exist for low-income and minority communities.”
The FirstGenHomeRI program was developed to address multi-generational inequities in access to homeownership and create equity in the housing market by narrowing homeownership and wealth gaps in the state. Studies show that when parents own a home, their children are more likely to own a home. The resulting wealth and stability that comes from owning a home can open opportunities for homeowners, their children and future generations.
“FirstGenHomeRI can make homeownership a reality for families who historically have been denied such opportunities to build wealth and achieve economic stability through housing,” said Deputy Secretary of Commerce for Housing Joshua Saal. “Homeownership is a pivotal step towards wealth building, and it is especially impactful when we can advance equity in our state. I commend RIHousing on their leadership on this important program as we continue to roll out additional housing supports in the near future.”
“Barriers to homeownership exist for many low income and minority borrowers. It becomes especially true for first-generation homebuyers,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing. “Traditionally, these borrowers compete with peers who may be able to tap into family resources to purchase a home and who benefit from the lived experience that comes from growing up in a home your family owns rather than an apartment.”
The program is targeted to Rhode Island residents currently residing in specific areas of the state, including Central Falls, East Providence, Pawtucket, Woonsocket, and parts of Providence (excluding residents in zip code 02906) and Newport (residents in census tract 44005040500 only). Eligible communities are those with some of the highest levels of need for increased homeownership opportunities. Factors such as median housing costs, household size, and income were used when determining eligible communities, which have roughly similar or higher concentrations of minority populations when compared to the state average and a higher percentage of median incomes below 80 percent Area Median Income (AMI).
“Pawtucket is happy to be able to host the announcement of this important program where we are one of the eligible communities for the FirstGenHomeRI program,” said Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien. “I want to thank all of the partners who have helped to prioritize homeownership and resources such as this program. Many Pawtucket residents are eligible for the kind of financial support this program provides and I encourage those interested to please reach out to RI Housing. The opportunity for homeownership is so important, and we know that a program like this can make dreams into reality.”
“Access to housing is a top priority of mine, with so many families here in Central Falls struggling to find a home they can afford. With just a 19 percent homeownership rate in our city, I hope to see this program help our residents attain the dream of first-generation homeownership by overcoming significant barriers: access to funds for a down payment and closing,” said Central Falls Mayor Maria Rivera. “I look forward to FirstGenHomeRI opening new doors in newly-purchased Central Falls homes that lead more of our families to stable housing, equity, and long-term success.”
Eligible homebuyers must be first-generation and ﬁrst-time homebuyers purchasing a 1-4 family home or condominium in Rhode Island, meet loan, income and credit score guidelines and must live in the home as their primary residence. Homebuyers will also receive HUD approved homebuyer education from community partners to ensure they are prepared for the responsibilities of homeownership and can be a successful homeowner. The down payment assistance is a grant that does not need to be repaid if the homeowner keeps their home for five years as their primary residence.
Homeownership is the primary way families build financial security and home equity is generally their largest source of wealth. For many homeowners, home equity is transformative and generational. This program aims to help current homebuyers while also supporting the next generation of buyers, who may find it easier to achieve their dreams of owning a home.
The announcement event was held in Pawtucket at the site of a new development on Middle Street comprised of five, new two-family homes available to first-time, income qualified Rhode Islanders being developed by Pawtucket Central Falls Development.
“Homeownership is often out of reach to first generation homebuyers who lack the down payment needed as well as the education and support to become successful homeowners,” said Linda Weisinger, Executive Director of Pawtucket Central Falls Development. “This new program removes what is often the biggest barrier to homeownership: the down payment, while also providing in-depth homebuyer education, which is the first step on a buyer’s path to homeownership.”
Complete details and information on how to apply is available online at www.rihousing.com/FirstGenHomeRI.