Most of the headlines about homeownership in Washington, D.C., focus on rising home prices, the competitive seller’s market with homes selling within days and the low inventory of homes for sale. After reading and hearing these stories many may feel that owning a home in the District is an unattainable dream. However, there is another part of the narrative in the homeownership story.
Under Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration resources are available to assist those dreaming of owning a home to actually become homeowners. The District of Columbia Housing Finance Agency (DCHFA) is helping to write this narrative and is a resource for people in the District that feel stranded on the path to homeownership. Since 1979, our Agency has been working to fulfill its mission of expanding homeownership opportunities in D.C. Homeownership Month is the precise time to introduce potential homebuyers to the Agency’s slate of homeownership resources and to invite you to visit DCHFA on June 17 for our annual House Crawl. During the House Crawl participants will receive an overview of the Agency’s homeownership programs, have the opportunity to meet with lenders and tour properties that are currently on the market in D.C. I invite you to visit www.DCHFA.org and register for this free homeownership month event.
This month DCHFA began offering $1,500 Closing Cost Grants. Homebuyer qualifications include income at 80 percent or less of area median income, close between June 1 and Sept. 1, 2017, and use one of the DC Open Doors HFA Preferred loan programs. Visit the Participating Lenders page of our website, then contact one of the DC Open Doors lending partners to apply for a mortgage and a Closing Cost Grant.
When you visit the Agency’s website you will also find information and guidelines for the DC Open Doors mortgage loan assistance and the Mortgage Credit Certificate programs as well as the Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP). Since its launch in May 2013, DC Open Doors has helped to finance 788 home purchases across the District in every Ward, with $232.6 million in total mortgage loans. DC Open Doors is not limited to first-time homebuyers and may be combined with other homebuyer programs such as HPAP. On March 1 of this year DCHFA became the co-administrator of HPAP, the DC Department of Housing and Community Development’s first time home buyer program. HPAP provides interest free deferred loans for down payment and closing costs assistance up to $84,000 combined.
DCHFA administers HPAP applications for households meeting very low to low income criteria. DCHFA’s Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) provides an additional incentive for first-time homebuyers to purchase a home. An MCC provides qualified borrowers the ability to claim a Federal Tax Credit of 20 percent of the mortgage interest paid during each calendar year. MCC’s maybe purchased with or without DC Open Doors mortgage products.
Retaining homeownership is critical once you have purchased a home. DCHFA offers the HomeSaver Program, a foreclosure prevention resource for unemployed, underemployed or District homeowners who may have suffered a qualified financial hardship and are at risk of losing their homes due to foreclosure or delinquent real property taxes.
If you do not have the opportunity to attend the House Crawl, DC Open Doors hosts Home Buyers’ Informational Sessions on the first and third Wednesday of each month at DCHFA (815 Florida Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20011) 6:30-8:00 p.m. I invite you to join us for the next session on June 21.
Todd A. Lee is executive director of the DC Housing Finance Agency and a D.C. resident.