A newly expanded city program aims to help some residents put a down payment on their first home in an effort to combat the rising cost of housing in Philly.
The Philly First Home Program, announced by city officials and members of the Division of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Thursday afternoon will give either $10,000 or six percent of a home’s purchase price—whichever is cheaper—to first-time home buyers, provided they meet several requirements.
Eligible recipients must have lived in Philly for at least three years, have a household income at or below 120 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), and complete housing counseling with the DHCD, according to a statement from the city. Residents who haven’t owned a home for at least three years are also eligible.
The program comes in response to rising housing costs in Philly, which have disproportionately affected lower and middle citizens, according to an article from PlanPhilly last month. Part of that is due to the influx of wealthier residents moving to the city over the past 10 years especially. Currently, the average house price in Philly stands at $200,000, with an average household income of $40,000, making Philly the country’s 59th most expensive city to buy a home, according to a recent study.
“Unfortunately, rising costs and a refusal to raise the minimum wage in Harrisburg are forcing more residents to become renters and inhibiting their ability to save and plan for the future,” City Council President Darrell Clarke said in a statement about the lien program Thursday.
Councilmember Cherelle Parker commended the program and the city, saying that achieving homeownership, which she called a piece of the “American Dream,” is out of the reach for many Philadelphians.
“I applaud Mayor Kenney, Council President Clarke and all of my council colleagues for recognizing the importance of incentivizing homeownership, which will ultimately help stabilize and preserve our neighborhoods for many years to come.”
The program is an expansion of an already existing one that gives a $1,000 grant to homebuyers, Philly.com wrote.
The money is a lien, meaning it needs to be paid when the home is sold unless the resident stays in the home for 15 years, at which point the debt is forgiven, the statement said.
City officials plan to start the program in early June, and residents can learn more about their eligibility here.