Assembly Housing Committee Clears Bill to Expand Homeownership Program for First-Time & First-Generation Homebuyers

Legislation advanced by the Assembly Housing Committee today would offer benefits to prospective first-time and first-generation homeowners. Bill A2824, sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Louis D. Greenwald and Assemblyman Bill Moen, would modify the down payment assistance program administered by the New Jersey Housing and Finance Agency (NJHMFA).

“The racial wealth gap in our state can largely be attributed to disparities in homeownership,” said Majority Leader Greenwald (D-Camden, Burlington). “These amendments aim to take a major step towards closing that gap by allowing more first-time and first-generation homebuyers statewide to make the life-changing down payment on their piece of the American dream.”

Enhancements the bill would make to the program include:

  • Increasing the maximum loan amount provided through the program – from $15,000 to $20,000.
  • Redefining a “first-generation homebuyer” so a loan program applicant would meet the definition even if a member of their household has acquired a home in the last three years, so long as the applicant, and their spouse or domestic partner, have not.
  • Expanding the definition of a “first-generation homebuyer” to include emancipated youth or those designated as homeless, unaccompanied youth under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
  • Modifying the program’s definition of a “first-time homebuyer” to provide additional flexibility to applicants using a mortgage offered by NJHMFA through an NJHMFA homebuyer program to purchase single-family housing.
  • Requiring first-time homebuyers to commit to using the home purchased through the loan program as their principal residence for five years.
  • Forgiving the down payment assistance loan once the five-year commitment has been met, otherwise the loan would need to be paid.
  • Modifying a homebuyer education requirement for participation in the loan program to provide NJHMFA with more discretion over how to administer the coursework.

“By expanding the definition of ‘first-time homeowner,’ and updating the regulations on owning residential property in the three previous years, we are providing fair opportunities to more individuals who can thrive in our communities,” said Assemblyman Moen (D-Camden, Gloucester). “I sponsored this bill because I firmly believe that expanding access to homeownership is not only key in neighborhood investments and economic growth, but it also contributes to the well-being of our communities.”

Information about the NJHMFA Down Payment Assistance Program can be found at www.nj.gov/dca/hmfa/consumers/homebuyers/index.shtml.

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