01/13/09 — Homebuyer program expanded

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Homebuyer program expanded

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on January 13, 2009 1:46 PM

A city program that helps with down payments on homes in Goldsboro's historic district has been expanded.

The city's Homebuyer Assistance Program matches down payment costs up to $5,000, and the loan is forgiven after five years of residency in the home.

Until now, the program had a number of stipulations that restricted who could participate. Participants had to be a teacher, a full-time or permanent part-time city employee or active duty personnel at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

But at the most recent City Council meeting, Assistant City Manager Tasha Logan told council members that the program had no takers yet.

"I have no idea why no one utilized it before," said Julie Thompson, Downtown Goldsboro Development director, who helped organize the program. "I would imagine it could be a number of things. They might not have known about it. It may be that the housing market is in a historic economic downturn. It may be that we too narrowly defined the persons eligible to apply for the assistance. I am sure that it could be a combination of all of the things, as well as others."

So, council members decided to open the program up to everyone, no matter their occupation.

City officials teamed up with Self-Help to provide three new homes on South John Street, but there are income limits for the homes. The homebuyer assistance program has no income limits so it would help those over the Self-Help home income limits.

The program gives funds to those people wishing to purchase a historic home in a specified area of the city, including areas from North Carolina Street to Herman Street and from Grantham Street/Royall Avenue to Hemlock Street. The purchase price of the home must not exceed $150,000.

The homebuyer must agree to live in the home as a single-family use and, if the home is in the Historic District, must adhere to the guidelines of any exterior improvements, take care to preserve the historic character of the home and to maintain the home's sustainability.

Currently, there are 10 historical homes available for sale through the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. and are all under $150,000.

Mrs. Thompson said that she knows the program won't likely help those who wish to buy a home in need of a major renovation, but it might help others.

"No, I do not necessarily think that this will be a great fix for those people that are buying a historic home that needs an investment. However, it is a good incentive and one that makes Goldsboro distinguishable from other towns that are undergoing similar revitalization efforts, giving us an added edge to help sell the program, houses and our effort," she said. "That $5,000 may make or break someone's ability to buy one of the affordable Self-Help homes, particularly those that have a higher median household income than the typical 80 percent bracket that we built the program around, because those buyers can not qualify for some of the other financial breaks that the city, Self-Help and the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency are offering through the purchase of those homes."

Mrs. Thompson said they have one such potential historical home buyer now that wants to move into the downtown area but makes too much money for the Self-Help homes.

"Her case is the impetus for our interest to reshape the program limits," the director added.

Funding was set aside to help up to four individuals at a maximum of $5,000 each this year.