Loan Program offered for low-income home buyers

Posted: Thursday, January 06, 2000

There's more money available this year in a program that helps low-income people in Juneau buy homes.

Housing First, a local non-profit housing organization, will be administering an Alaska Housing Finance Corp. grant that will provide $300,000 worth of housing assistance for low-income residents of Juneau and $100,000 for residents of Sitka.

Last year Housing First received $250,000 in Home Opportunity Program funds for Juneau, which helped 18 individuals and families buy homes.

``We hope to improve on that number in 2000,'' Housing First President Robin Gilcrist said in a news release.

Participants can receive help with the down payment and closing costs. The total loan package per family could be up to $25,000, depending on income level, said Mark Romick, a planner with the Alaska Housing Finance Corp.

The lower the income, the more money a person can borrow.

Loans can be made for single-family homes, attached houses, mobile homes and condominiums. However, a home must meet some safety standards and be occupied by the owner.

To be eligible for funding, people don't have to be first-time home buyers, but there are income limits, according to Housing First. Single people can make up to $34,550 and still qualify, while households with children can earn more money, up to $65,150 for a family of eight.

The loans are interest-free and can be forgiven if the buyer remains in the home. If $15,000 or less is borrowed, the loan is forgiven after five full years in the house; if more is borrowed, the buyer must live in the home 10 years, according to Housing First.

Housing First is working with two banks in Juneau, National Bank of Alaska and Alaska Pacific Bank. Home buyers must receive mortgages through these banks to qualify for assistance.

The funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis, based on the date of an accepted earnest money agreement. Last year the funding was exhausted within six months, according to Housing First.

Two public meetings are scheduled to explain the program, from 7 to 8 p.m. Feb. 1 and from noon to 1 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Gruening Park recreation room at 1800 Northwood St.

More information is available by attending one of the meetings or calling 364-3573. Housing First will begin sending out applications Jan. 31.

Housing First is one of three organizations in the state chosen to split $1.02 million in federal grant money for the program this year, Romick said.

Grants are also going to a housing organization in Fairbanks and one in Anchorage that provides help for Kenai Peninsula and Matanuska-Susistna Borough home buyers, he said.

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