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Habitat for Humanity-New Castle County’s new Almost Home program looks to increase affordable housing stock in Wilmington, and help potential low-income homeowners qualify for Habitat’s 0% Mortgage Program.
“We see over 400 applicants a year, and only approve 10 to 15 to become new homeowners. And basically the vast majority of those who apply and don’t get in is because of credit. Because of the housing crisis people are paying $1200 to $1500 in rent. They don’t have any room to work on those credit issues,” said Habitat for Humanity New Castle County CEO Kevin Smith.
In order to be considered for Habitat’s homeownership program, your score must be at least 580.
Smith says the program can help more people improve their credit rating, and make homeownership – the number one way to create wealth for families in America – more accessible.
“So every child that’s in a habitat home, their new normal is home ownership. And they’re going to want to be home owners. And their parents can pass on the wealth of their house down the line,” explained Smith. “Most of the homeowners that come through our program are minorities, so this is a way for us to narrow the racial wealth gap.”
The Almost Home program helps families build credit by supplying them with low-cost, short-term rentals in New Castle County. The rental cost range will be $700 to $800 – nearly half of the current average cost to rent.
New Castle County is helping fund the program with a $200,000 grant while JP MorganChase is adding $336,000 as part of its 5 year commitment to advance racial equity and shrink the racial wealth divide.
“That money will be used to increase their capacity to operate this program. With those dollars they’ll be hiring a project manager, and a case manager, and increasing housing stock. And it will really help families change the way that they spend and save their money as a prelude to homeownership,” said Jac Rivers, Vice President Programs Officer with JP MorganChase.
Previous applicants to Habitat for Humanity’s 0% Mortgage Program will get first priority for the Almost Home program.