Homeownership: A Tool for Community Development
by Mark W. Griffith
While becoming a homeowner is a dream for many, it can also be seen as a tool and a very useful one at that.
When viewed through that lens, housing professionals realize homeownership helps strengthen and revitalize communities, while building wealth and providing a home for families to grow and thrive.
That potential to do good is what makes the Tennessee Housing Development Agency’s HHF Down Payment Assistance so important for many hardworking families in the Volunteer State.
Equipped with an allocation of $60 million from the U.S. Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund, THDA was able to target 55 ZIP Codes – just under seven percent of those in Tennessee – that have been slow to recover from the housing downturn that occurred almost nine years ago. The targeted areas include ZIP Codes in East Tennessee. Many homes in Clinton ZIP Code 37716 are eligible and seven ZIP Codes stretching into Jefferson and a tip of Sevier County have neighborhoods that could be helped.
The full list of ZIP Codes can be found online at GreatChoiceTN.com by clicking on the Down Payment Assistance box.
The program works like this: as of March 1, 2017, homebuyers purchasing an existing home in one of the eligible ZIP Codes can apply for a $15,000 forgivable second mortgage to cover the downpayment and closing costs.
The ZIP Codes being targeted are among those hardest hit during the housing crisis based on a variety of factors identified by the U.S. Treasury. The goal of the program is to spur economic activity and help stabilize property values by boosting home sales in those neighborhoods that have not fully recovered.
Still the biggest hurdle to homeownership for hard-working folks: saving money for the required down payment and closing costs to purchase a home. Without this helping hand, many deserving Tennesseans wouldn’t be able to make the jump from renter to homeowner.
Since it was announced in early February, a flurry of media coverage and social media buzz has helped raise awareness about the new program. Due to its popularity, many people have expressed interest. All the information is available at GreatChoiceTN.com.
Many wonder if it’s a deal that’s too good to be true, but it’s real, and it’s ready. As housing professionals, we should help our clients clear up any confusion about where the program is available and who benefits, and always strive to do what is best on their behalf by matching them with the product that serves them best.
With this powerful tool, we have a chance to help build the foundation for a positive future for thousands of Tennessee families.
By Mark Griffith
Mortgage Investors Group
Branch Manager- Oak Ridge
Co-Host of The Housing Hour-THDA Advisory Board