By Hayley Crandall
Mayor Tom Barrett and community partners gathered Tuesday, June 15 to announce the launch of the new Milwaukee Home Down Payment Program, a city-wide initiative, which awards grants to first-time homeowners to help pay for down payments.
This program is estimated to help around 200 homebuyers, and looks to tackle a prominent barrier that many face when it comes to owning a home: the down payment. Not everyone has the resources to take that first step for a home, Barrett explained, and this kind of aid can go far for both families and communities.
“I recognize that homeownership in America is one of the most critical avenues toward creating not only stability, creating safety in neighborhoods, but also creating wealth,” Barrett said. “I feel very, very strongly that we have an obligation to do more to eliminate the racial disparities we are seeing in homeownership in the City of Milwaukee.”
Barrett outlined some of the eligibility guidelines for these future owners. The guidelines are as follows:
• Grants are only available for Milwaukee residents; they can be used across the city.
• Applicants must be first-time owners or have not owned a home in the past three years.
• Total household income for applicants must be under 80% of the area median.
The grant amounts in this program vary. Grants of up to $5,000 are available toward homes anywhere in the city, Barrett said, but purchases in the city’s Community Development Block Grant Area boundary may receive up to $7,000.
This $1.4 million program has been made possible by funds from the Beerline project, according to Barrett.
“We are literally having Downtown help provide assistance for people to buy homes in some of the most impoverished parts of the city,” he said. “To me, this is a testament to the strategy of making sure we have a strong heart. By having a strong heart, we are able to derive some of the benefits from that strong heart and use it in our neighborhoods.”
The program is administered by community partners from Milwaukee’s Housing Counseling Agencies, which includes Housing Resources, ACTS Housing and the United Community Center. Take Root Milwaukee, a consortium of over 40 home-related organizations, has also joined the program.
Saving for down payments can overwhelming but there’s excitement for the impact that this program will have on families, said Dorothy York, chief operating officer at ACTS Housing.
“This should allow more families to purchase homes and build wealth that can improve their quality of life,” she said. “Not only does this make homeownership possible, but it can also make a difference between a family being able to buy now and buying years from now.”
Applying for the Milwaukee Home Down Payment Program assistance can be done through one of the previously named agencies.
“We’re excited about this,” Barrett said. “We think it’s going to help us build stronger neighborhoods, stronger families and a stronger Milwaukee.”
Further information and additional guidelines can be found online, www.milwaukee.gov/mhdpa.