The City of Houston wants to make the home-buying process affordable and easier for some of its vulnerable residents. The New Homes for Houston Initiative is a partnership with the City of Houston's Housing and Community Development (HCD) and developers investing $105 million to build more than 2,000 affordable single-family homes with market rate options.
Developments are being built in some of Houston’s underserved communities like Third Ward, Acres Homes, South Park and more. Homes will be reserved for qualified homebuyers and families earning up to 120% Area Median Income (AMI) with some developers capping the income at 80%.
For example, one person can make up to $78,300 at 120% AMI, and $52,200 at 80% AMI.
"This is meant to be a program of flexibility to assist a broad range of folks across the homebuyer spectrum," said HCD's Community Outreach Coordinator Jeremiah Rivera.
According to Rivera, so far, a family of four, has gone through the program and successfully closed on a home.
"They met with financial and housing counselors, [they] set up a plan to pay off their debts, worked on increasing their income by securing full time jobs, increased their credit score by over a hundred points, and applied for a down payment assistant," he said. "So they did a lot of work, had goals they set, worked towards those goals, and have now been homeowners for some months."
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a nationwide network of housing counselors to assist potential buyers through the process. The Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation, is one of many agencies in Houston that offers assistance, and a neighborhood that's part of the program.
Mary Guerra, a housing counselor with the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation, said having a housing counselor can make the process easier for homebuyers.
"We, of course, will be your resource center providing referrals for lenders, realtors, insurance agents, inspectors and whoever it is that's needed," she said.
Residents will have to meet program guidelines in order to qualify such as a preapproval letter from their lender dated within 120 days, an eight-hour homebuyer education certificate from a HUD approved agency, and complete all of the required documents in the homebuyer checklist packet.
Developments are being built over the next two to three years and many are currently ready for move-in.