New Initiative Makes Home-Buying Ambitions Come True
Grand Junction, Colorado is making a decisive move to improve its home ownership rates by launching a transformative program aimed at assisting its low-income residents. The innovative Home Purchase Assistance Program commences on June 10th and is dedicated to easing the financial burden of purchasing a house for the city’s underprivileged citizens.
The program is the brainchild of Housing Resources of Western Colorado (HRWC), a prominent local organization dedicated to alleviating housing issues. HRWC brought this vision to life with invaluable support from the Western Colorado Community Foundation, a local nonprofit, and a generous $1 million grant from the city of Grand Junction, which was funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
Emilee Powell, the Executive Director for HRWC, noted that the home ownership rate in Grand Junction fluctuates between 60-65%. However, this figure is trending downward annually due to escalating living costs. For instance, the median income needed to purchase a home in the city has surged to $100 thousand per annum, double the $50 thousand required in 2019.
Recognizing this alarming trend, Powell explained, “We saw this massive income leap in home ownership requirements, which is why we felt it was critically important to introduce a program like this that would help our residents bridge that financial gap.”
The Home Purchase Assistance Program offers specialized loans designed to reduce both the down payment and the monthly payments required to purchase a house. Moreover, HRWC also provides a certified counseling education team, ready to guide prospective home buyers through the complexities of the purchasing process. These counselors provide their coaching services free of charge, helping residents to improve their credit and manage debt.
While the program does have an income requirement, it varies significantly based on the size of the household. Powell reassures that the thresholds have been set reasonably high to accommodate as many families as possible. As an example, a family of four would need an income of around $85 thousand per year to be eligible for the program.
The $1 million grant from the city will be allocated directly to the clients in the form of a loan, while an additional $25 thousand grant has been provided by the Western Colorado Community Foundation as part of their Dreaming Forward Grants initiative.
Tedi Gillespie, the Community Outreach Director at the Western Colorado Community Foundation, explained their involvement. “We wanted to fund capacity-building grants, those which could help launch new programs like this purchase assistance initiative,” said Gillespie. She added that they would also extend support in the form of contracting lawyers and technical assistance to those in need.
To mark the program’s launch on the 10th, HRWC, in collaboration with the national nonprofit NeighborWorks, will host a neighborhood clean-up at the Grand Valley Apartments on Jay Lee Street in Clifton. This event, taking place between 10 A.M. and 12 P.M., serves as an opportunity for residents to remove trash and unwanted items. After the clean-up, an official announcement about the Down Payment Assistance Program will be made to the attendees.
In the future, the program plans to expand its reach beyond the confines of Grand Junction, with hopes to service residents in Mesa, Delta, and Montrose counties. This is a substantial move toward making home ownership more accessible and achievable for many more Colorado residents.