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Northampton County Doubles 'First-Time Homebuyer' Loan Support | WDIY Local News

Tierra Mallorca

Northampton County is providing some extra loan money to help first-time buyers find their new home.

The county said Tuesday that its First-Time Homebuyer Program will provide $10,000 to eligible residents to help with down payments and closing costs, up from the original $5,000.

According to a release, eligible residents must be first-time homebuyers, or have not owned a home for at least three years.

Their annual household income cannot exceed 80% of the Lehigh Valley’s median income. This means a limit of $72,500 for a family of four, $58,000 for two people, or $50,750 for a single person.

Residents must also obtain a primary mortgage from a partnering financial institution, and complete a free, half-day HUD certified/affiliated Homebuyer Education Counseling Program from an accredited agency before closing.

“This is a significant step in taking our residents from being tenants to assisting them as they become Northampton County homeowners for the first time,” Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure said in a statement.

“Homeownership remains the surest route into the Middle Class. I will continue to work and fight to expand the Middle Class for all of our citizens.”

According to the county’s website, for each year a homeowner stays in the home, 20% of the loan is forgiven. The loan is forgiven entirely after five years of ownership.

The county said the program’s goals include increasing home ownership in low-and-moderate-income neighborhoods, providing the opportunity for stability that’s associated with home ownership, and allowing residents “to take advantage of the benefits of fair housing choice.”

The county’s Department of Community and Economic Development will receive and review applications continuously throughout the year. Applications can be acquired through the first lender.

The release said when and if funds are depleted, the approved but non-funded applications will be held to await additional funding.

In a similar announcement, Northampton County also announced on Wednesday that it has been awarded a $2.33 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

This money comes from the HOME-American Rescue Plan Program, which was allocated funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

It is intended to help people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and improve housing stability.

McClure said the county will continue supporting, “a number of programs and agencies to provide direct support to any of our residents experiencing being without a home and want to improve their quality of life through housing.”

(Original air-date: 5/10/23)

Sarit "Siri" Laschinsky is WDIY's News and Public Affairs Director.