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25 Jul 2011

Mayor Nutter relaunches program to help working Philadelphians buy homes

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July 25, 2011 Category: Color Of Money Posted by:

Mayor Michael A. Nutter relaunched Philadelphia Home-Buy-Now, a program that helps Philadelphia’s workforce to become homeowners. The City provides incentives for participating employers who offer their employees grants or forgivable loans toward the purchase price of a new home within the city limits. The City will match this funding up to $4,000 per home buyer.


“Philadelphia has a world-class workforce. We want these talented individuals to buy homes, raise families and pursue careers within the city,” said Mayor Nutter. “Home-Buy-Now is an excellent tool for employers to recruit top talent and for the city to create more stable, flourishing neighborhoods.”


Philadelphia Home-Buy-Now is administered by a partnership with the Urban Affairs Coalition, which assists with the program’s design and ongoing management.  “Bringing back Philadelphia Home-Buy-Now is a major boost to Philadelphia: for employees, for employers and for neighborhoods.  We are proud to partner with the city to administer the program,” said Sharmain Matlock-Turner, President and CEO, Urban Affairs Coalition.


During the period 2005-2009, Philadelphia Home-Buy-Now made 211 matching grants totaling $696,330 to employees purchasing homes in Philadelphia.  The newly relaunched program will focus in targeted areas on employers whose participation will directly help to strengthen communities.  The program will feature $4,000 matching grants for homebuyers in specific Philadelphia neighborhoods, and $2,000 matching grants for homebuyers outside of the targeted areas.  Up to four targeted neighborhoods will be defined by anchor institutions that participate in the program.


In the future, additional options will be added to the menu of housing-related benefits from which participating Home-Buy-Now employers may choose. These may include home buying workshops, individual home purchase counseling and home inspections.


The first employer to sign-on for the new Home-Buy-Now program is Drexel University, which will be one of the anchor institutions. The University of Pennsylvania has also joined the program as an anchor institution. “We are very excited about our collaboration with the Philadelphia Home-Buy-Now program,” said Deborah Eskridge Glenn, Vice President of Human Resources at Drexel University that administers a program at Drexel with a forgivable loan of $15,000 for eligible employees. “This initiative will provide eligible Drexel employees with an added incentive to purchase a home in West Philadelphia.”


Dr. Kalatu Davies, a Drexel employee, will be the first individual to purchase a home under the new program, using a combined grant of $19,000 to buy her home. “Owning my own home has always been a dream of mine. The city’s grant along with the Drexel loan allows me to get a great house that I would not have been able to purchase so soon. This leaves my savings for future home improvement and maintenance.  It is definitely a blessing,” said Dr. Davies. “I’ve always wanted to be involved and give back to the local community that I live in.  I think that homeownership helps to motivate those goals.”


Also speaking at the relaunch was Michael Clancy, who works for the law firm Martin Banks, one of 10 employers who have signed on to the new program for employers outside of the targeted areas.  “Growing up, I dreamed about owning my own home. It means everything in the world to me.  Without the Philadelphia Home-Buy-Now program owning my own home would just not be possible,” said Mr. Clancy.  “I selected a home in a nice neighborhood in Pennsport-Whitman.  I cannot wait until my settlement on August 10.  My home will give me and my family of four stability and happiness.”


Philadelphia Home-Buy-Now provides wide-ranging benefits:


For Philadelphia’s housing market, the program provides a significant incentive for individuals to make home purchases during difficult economic times.  The program will help an estimated 240 homebuyers finance their purchases over the next two years (the final number of homebuyers will depend on how many take the up-to-$4,000 match and how many take the up-to-$2,000 match). It will also leverage more than an estimated $29 million in home sales into the housing market with a public commitment of only $735,000.


For participating employers, the program offers a powerful tool for building strong, successful companies.  Studies of similar programs have found that staff who receive housing benefits like Philadelphia Home-Buy-Now stay at their jobs 50 percent longer, saving their companies money in separation, recruitment and training costs. Staff who receive a housing benefit also score higher on performance reviews than their peers.


For Philadelphia’s neighborhoods, the program contributes to stability and a sense of community by bringing in new homeowners.


Philadelphia Home-Buy-Now is part of a larger strategy to stabilize neighborhoods in the current economic crisis.  It builds on the City’s nationally recognized Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Program, which has saved more than 3,500 homes, as well as the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), a federal stimulus program that strengthens neighborhoods by providing housing opportunities in targeted communities that were highly affected by high rates of foreclosure. Philadelphia Home-Buy-Now is funded out of bond proceeds, and does not impact the general fund.


Companies seeking more information on Philadelphia Home-Buy-Now should visit the website or contact Christopher Waters, program manager, Employer-Assisted Housing, Urban Affairs Coalition at [email protected] or 215-851-1955. 


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