Cities tend to have low rates of homeownership. This is particularly the case for ones that are comprised of disproportionately high percentages of low-income residents. Evidence shows that homeownership builds wealth and increases residents’ attachments to their neighborhood and city. As a result, boosting the number of homeowners benefits the entire community, not just the individual homeowner.
Under a federal HUD program, local public housing authorities have the option of providing a path to homeownership to residents of public housing. Where this option is offered, Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) that are usually employed as rental subsidies for people whose income is sufficiently low enough to qualify for Section 8 housing can be used to help make monthly mortgage payments.
Newark has made this option more affordable and as a result open to more low-income residents by partnering with the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA), an experienced non-profit housing broker which focuses on mortgages for low-income families. The involvement of NACA means that mortgages can often be offered with no down payment, no closing costs or brokerage fees, and at below-market rates.
Solution: Increase homeownership among low-income residents of your city by persuading the local housing authority to offer this accessible path to homeownership.
Steps to local adoption:
- Contact your local public housing authority to find out if they have a “rent to own” program. If they do, ask who issues the mortgages and whether or not the housing authority has an arrangement with NACA. Also, ask how many public housing renters have become homeowners through this program. If you are not getting the information you need, file a public records request with the city clerk that details these particulars.
- If there is no rent to own program, contact the mayor and the director of the public housing authority and request a meeting to present this idea (See Sample letter/email provided).
- If there is a program, but only a few residents are taking advantage of it, contact the mayor and the director of the public housing authority to propose that they partner with NACA.
- Prepare a respectful presentation citing the evidence-based pluses for the program for the mayor and director of the public housing authority.
- If these initial steps don’t appear to be moving the needle, consider preparing a resolution for adoption by the City Council that incorporates the basics of this program and urges the Housing Authority to adopt it.