Rockford begins a new Homebuyer Rehabilitation Assistance Program

Staff Report

The City of Rockford’s Community Development Department and its partner, HomeStart, have announced the startup of the Homebuyer Rehabilitation Assistance Program.

This program will offer financial assistance to approximately 20 applicants to acquire and rehabilitate vacant properties in the City of Rockford.

Eligible homebuyers will receive between $3,000 to $5,000 for down payment and closing cost assistance and up to $20,000 for rehabilitation of the property.

Additional grant funds may be available from the City of Rockford through its Federal HOME Investment Partnerships. Only vacant single-family properties are eligible for the program.

This is a wonderful opportunity to encourage home ownership, rehabilitate some of Rockford’s vacant homes, and create jobs for those in the construction trade,” said Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey (I). “The Illinois Housing Development Authority continues to be an important partner in the stabilization of Rockford’s neighborhoods. We appreciate their ongoing support.”

The grant funds will be provided in the form of five-year forgivable loans. Homebuyers must own and live in the property during the first five years or the balance not yet forgiven will be due upon sale or transfer of the property. Funds must fix building code violations as a first priority. Properties must meet Rockford’s building code at project completion.

To qualify for the program, applicants must have the ability to obtain financing to purchase a home. Also, income restrictions do apply: Household incomes must not exceed 80 percent of the area median income based on household size. For example, for a family of four, the total household income cannot exceed $48,900. Funds for this program will be disbursed on a first-come, first-served basis.

To apply, the first point of contact is HomeStart at (815) 962-2011. A HomeStart counselor will meet with the interested homebuyer and prepare them for the home buying process. Once ready and income qualified, the homebuyer will search for a home and a lender. After an inspection and approval of the home selected, the home may be purchased and the rehabilitation work can begin.

The Homebuyer Rehabilitation Program is made available through a competitive grant from the Illinois Housing Trust Fund and awarded to the City by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA).

The City of Rockford Community Development Department administers housing rehabilitation and home ownership programs and provides assistance to neighborhood and community service organizations.

HomeStart is a HUD-approved housing counseling organization, and a chartered member of the National NeighborWorks Network. HomeStart provides counseling and education to assist residents in northern Illinois seeking to purchase or keep their homes.

From the March 19-25, 2014, issue

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