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Charlotte expands housing program to make homeownership a reality for more families

The deputy director of Housing Services for the city of Charlotte said these efforts help people achieve upward economic mobility.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — High prices and a low supply of houses make it tough for those looking to buy a home. Therefore the city of Charlotte is changing its housing program in hopes to create a stronger path to home ownership.

“Charlotte is exponentially less affordable than it was five years ago,” Julie Porter, president of DreamKey Partners, said.

The agency oversees the House Charlotte program for the city. It is now offering up to $30,000 in down payment loan options, closing costs or points to buy down. That’s up from $17,000.

“We realized that because prices escalated so much that the down payment that was being offered was just not enough,” she said.

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To qualify, applicants must have an income that’s less than 81% of the “area median income.” For a family of four that is about $75,350. Families who make up to 110% AMI can qualify for a $10,000 loan.

Rebecca A. Hefner is the deputy director of Housing Services for the city of Charlotte. She said these efforts help people achieve upward economic mobility.

“Owning a home is, is really one of the major ways in this country that people build wealth,” Hefner said. "And a lot of households use the equity in their home to pay for college for their kids or to help with retirement costs in the future."

There are 0% interest rates and if families keep their homes the loans are completely forgivable after 30 years, for the 80 AMI bracket and after 15 years for the 110% AMI group.

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“Our changes to the House Charlotte program are part of a larger group of changes and shifts that we're making at the city so that we can really address both of those challenges, the affordability and the supply challenges,” Hefner explained.

The maximum a person can spend on a property is up from $285,000 to $300,000 for existing construction and $315,000 for new construction.

Home buyers do have to complete an eight-hour housing education program that goes over budgeting, financial literacy, and credit repair to help prepare them to buy a home.

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And with rents skyrocketing, the benefits of a mortgage are clear.

“Rents are rising so quickly in Charlotte, that people can’t count on what their rent is going to be year after year,” Porter said. "If they purchase a home, often that mortgage is set for 30 years."

Contact Jesse Pierre at jpierrepet@wcnc.com or follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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