Wells Fargo launches $6.75 million homebuyer grant program in Brockton

Click here to view original web page at www.enterprisenews.com

Wells Fargo came to Brockton City Hall on Friday to launch a $6.75 million initiative aimed at boosting homeownership in Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk and Plymouth counties. Eligible participating homebuyers can get a $20,000 down payment assistance grants by attending a free event on June 29 and June 30 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Sheraton Boston Hotel. This is the first time Wells Fargo has brought its NeighborhoodLIFT program to Massachusetts. But it’s the 60th time Wells Fargo has hosted this program throughout the country.

BROCKTON – Low- and middle-income families in the Brockton area that hope to buy a home are now being offered a leg up.

But they have to act fast.

Wells Fargo, one of the biggest banks in the United States, came to Brockton City Hall on Friday to launch its first NeighborhoodLIFT program in Massachusetts. The $6.75 million initiative is aimed at boosting homeownership in Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk and Plymouth counties, by providing $20,000 down payment assistance grants to eligible, mortgage-ready homebuyers.

And for military service members, veterans, teachers, law enforcement officials, firefighters and emergency medical technicians, Wells Fargo is offering $22,500 down payment assistance grants.

“The truth is we care a lot about being part of the solution for revitalizing our communities,” said Stephen Ball, a senior vice president for government relations at Wells Fargo. “We also care about making homeownership more affordable and sustainable. We know right now, with the tight housing market, that it’s more important than ever. So often the key to buying a home is the ability to make a down payment. The Wells Fargo NeighborhoodLIFT program does just that.”

This is the 60th time Wells Fargo has rolled out a LIFT program since February 2012, but it’s the first time in Massachusetts. The LIFT programs have helped a total of 17,600 homeowners around the country, providing about $376 million for down payment assistance, homeowner education, and events to showcase area homes for sale.

To be eligible for the down payment assistance grants, the annual household income of the buyer must not exceed 100 percent of the local area median income. In Brockton, that means a family that makes $87,100 per year or less if qualified, according to Robert Corley, executive director of NeighborWorks Southern Mass, which is collaborating with Wells Fargo to implement the NeighborhoodLIFT program.

Participants in the new Massachusetts program must attend a free event on June 29 and June 30, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., held at the Sheraton Boston Hotel at 39 Dalton St. in Boston. Walk-ins are welcome, organizers said.

A representative of Wells Fargo said the company expects to provide 250 to 300 down payment grants as part of the NeighborhoodLIFT program in Massachusetts.

Participating homebuyers must finalize a contract to purchase a home within 60 days to receive the $20,000 grants, Corley said. And they also have to attend an eight-hour homebuyer education session approved by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, Corley said.

“If you get a reservation for this money, you must come to us with purchase and sale agreement within 60 days,” Corley said.

The homeowner must keep the property for at least five years to get the entire $20,000 down payment assistance grant, which is set up as a forgivable loan, Corley said. If the homeowners sells the property before the five-year mark, the grant is prorated, and the difference would come from the proceeds of the sale.

To determine eligibility or to get more details about the event at the Sheraton Boston Hotel, Corley said potential homebuyers should go to his nonprofit’s website, www.nwsoma.org.

Corley and Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter said the NeighborhoodLIFT program dovetails with a down payment assistance program that’s offered through NeighborWorks Southern Mass. Carpenter said the down payment assistance programs come on top of a federally funded lead abatement program that is also promoting home sales in Brockton.

Carpenter said there are many families who rent apartment but are working hard to save enough money to make a down payment on a home of their own. The NeighborhoodLIFT program will help get them over the hump, the Brockton mayor said.

“They get close, but usually the biggest obstacle is the down payment and closing costs,” Carpenter said. “Now a lot of those folks will qualify for this program, and this will be the money that gets them over the bar.”

Carpenter said Brockton remains “one of the most affordable places to live” close to Boston. Carpenter encouraged potential homeowners to seize this opportunity provided by NeighborhoodLIFT.

“You’ve got to jump in right now,” the Brockton mayor said. “It’s going to be well worth the investment.”

Asked why Wells Fargo wanted to launch the program in Brockton, Ball, the government relations rep for the banking company, said he and others like the energy and opportunities in the city.

“We saw Brockton as a community that’s ripe for investment and homeownership,” Ball said. “It’s one of the larger communities. We thought it’d be a great place to kick it off. We like all the enthusiasm.”