Grants available for homebuyers investing in Oswego

OSWEGO — Many families from out of town or currently renting in the Port City should take a gander at Oswego's Affordable Home Ownership Program, which offers grant opportunities to low and moderate-income families looking to invest long-term in Oswego.

The program, administered by the Community Development Office (CDO) through funding from the state Office of Community Renewal, awards grants averaging between $10,000 and $17,000, which is given as loans that don't need to be paid back if the buyers stay in the house for at least a decade.

Many officials encourage potential homeowners to look into the program, as home ownership gives a boost to neighborhood pride and home values.

Justin Rudgick, CDO director, said the program would actively kick off in the spring, which is the time when prospective homebuy-ers typically dig into their searches.

"The first-time homebuyer program provides counseling, training and financial assistance to prepare families to afford a home," Rudgick said, "as well as understanding the responsibilities of owning and maintaining a home." The program helps potential owners know how much they can afford, how to meet savings goals, prep for emergencies and resolve outstanding credit issues often a stumbling block in a home purchase.

There are income requirements for applicants, including a minimum household income of $24,000 and $500 in savings for the home purchase. There are also maximum income requirements depending on household size based on 80 percent of the area's median income; for example, $38,400 for a household of one, $49,350 for a household of three, or $63,600 for a household of six.

Rudgick noted that as of last fall there was a waiting list for the program, but he and other officials encouraged anyone interested to apply to discover whether they're eligible to participate. "I would encourage anyone that potentially thinks that they are eligible under the income guidelines to contact the Community Development Office for further information about the program," he said.

The size of the grant will depend on the price of the house and the likely monthly mortgage cost.

CDO's housing counselor assists in reviewing applicants' finances and debt to ascertain qualifications and the size of the potential grant. The purchase price of the home cannot be higher than the counselor's recommendation. Families who move out of the homes purchased using the grant must re-pay the city on a pro-rated basis.

Prospective buyers should also investigate several available first-time home-buyer mortgage programs, with many banks and credit unions offering deals to new homeowners.

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