By: Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives – October, 2017
I recently testified on a bill I filed S733, “An Act Relative to Access to Housing for First Responders,” This legislation would allow MassHousing, an independent, quasi-public state agency focused on providing financing for affordable housing, to create a special home loan program for first responders who are required to live within a minimum distance from the municipality they serve. Those eligible for this program would meet program income limits and live in the eligible home as the primary residence for the term of the loan, in addition to other common-sense requirements required by the program. This legislation spurred MassHousing’s interest in meeting with me regarding programs that are currently in place.
MassHousing is a not-for-profit agency that helps low and moderate income first time homebuyers in Massachusetts as well as offers certain home repair loan programs and a military homeownership program. It’s important to note MassHousing does not use tax dollars to give out loans, they instead lend out money they make from selling bonds.
MassHousing works with local lenders to offer their products to income eligible customers, which vary by city and town. They also take into account your credit-worthiness, but a person with a combined annual income of $139,590 would be eligible for a $424,100 single family home in Essex County with as little as 3% down.
They also offer a home repair loan program for lead paint removal and septic system repair loans. Loan amounts range between $7,000 to $50,000 and are a safe alternative to what sometimes are predatory loans.
Operation Welcome Home is a mortgage program for veterans, active service members, reservists and Gold Star Families looking to becoming first time homebuyers. This loan offers a 0% interest, deferred down payment or closing cost assistance loan option of up to 3% for eligible borrowers and up to a 97% loan-to-value first mortgage.
MassHousing should be used as an option in obtaining first time home-buyer loans and especially for first responders who may not know that they could qualify. First responders, including law enforcement officers, firefighters, and EMTs, have found difficulty affording to live in the communities they serve.
hether you support or oppose residency requirements for first responders, it remains true that many of these public servants wish to live where they work, but struggle financially to do so.
I will be hosting a regional informational session for all first responders in the near future to learn how they can access these programs.
To learn more about MassHousing visit www.masshousing.com
Senator O’Connor Ives can be reached at KATHLEEN.OCONNORIVES@MASENATE.GOV