Wake County program offers forgivable loan to help first-time homebuyers, prevent foreclosure

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- For when homeownership is just out of reach, Wake County is offering a way to make it happen.

Not only is the new Affordable Homeownership Program aiming to help first-time homebuyers in the midst of a hot housing market, but it's also set up to help families--perhaps affected by COVID-19--stay in their homes.

DHIC Inc. is running the program and is now accepting applications. The company has $475,000 available to provide forgivable loans to eligible home buyers or assistance with foreclosure prevention.

First-time homebuyers and homeowners who are purchasing a home or already living outside of Raleigh and Cary, and earning up to 80% of the area median income can apply for loans of up to $20,000.

Every five years, $5,000 will drop off the loan, which means if a family stays in their home for 20 years, they won't have to pay any of it back.

"In Wake County, we are very fortunate to be a desirable place to live and that obviously comes with benefits but it comes with challenges as well," said Alicia Arnold, Wake County Equitable Housing & Community Development Div. Dir.

Arnold said the idea for the program came out of Wake County's 2017 Affordable Housing Plan; the county started with making rental market improvements and is now focusing on helping families build generational wealth through homeownership, especially low-to-moderate income households struggling in a market where demand far exceeds supply.

"We understand that we need to be creating more housing stock and when the housing stock is not keeping up with the growth we're experiencing, both from people moving back to this area as well as people getting out on their own in this area, we know that folks with lower incomes are the ones that lose out in that hot market," said Arnold.

Wake County, which matched a $250,000 federal community development block grant, is hoping to help 25 families a year and is already looking for ways to increase funding for its Affordable Homeownership Program.
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