Parkersburg-Wood County HOME Consortium announces new program

Down payment assistance offers forgivable loan

PARKERSBURG — A new program offers loans for down payment assistance or closing costs of up to $10,000 for Wood County residents, with no repayment if the applicant remains in the house for at least five years.

The Parkersburg-Wood County HOME Consortium, administered by the City of Parkersburg’s Development Department, announced the launch of the Down Payment Assistance Program Friday. With funds from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and in partnership with local banks, the program is designed to help qualified, first-time homebuyers defray some of the initial costs associated with home ownership, according to a release from the Development Department.

The idea is to open assistance to even more people than the city’s current Single-Family Housing Opportunity Program, which provides up to $25,000, repayable after the lending institution is paid back in 20 years, said Lisa Cullum, financial compliance officer for the Development Department.

“We only have one first-time homebuyer program right now … and the person would have to be eligible for a 20-year mortgage. Sometimes that can be tough,” she said.

On the new program, 20 percent of the debt is written off each year, Cullum said.

“It’s forgivable after five years, so there’s no money that has to be paid back,” she said.

“Our goal is to get people into that affordable housing,” Cullum said.

To apply for the assistance, an applicant must be a first-time homebuyer or not have owned a home in the last three years. They must also qualify as low- or moderate-income, based on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development guidelines, the release says. For example, the annual income level would be at or below $30,450 for one person and at or below $43,500 for a houshold of four.

Although administered by Parkersburg, the consortium includes Vienna, Williamstown and Wood County, so it is not limited only to Parkersburg residents.

Over the last two fiscal years, Parkersburg City Council has budgeted $151,448.56 in HOME funds for the program.

To promote the new program, four informational meetings have been scheduled, starting next week:

* 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28 — Good Shepherd Church, 903 Charles St., Parkersburg.

* 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5 — Consumer Credit Counseling Service, 2715 Murdoch Ave., Parkersburg.

* 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12 — Vienna Public Library, 2300 First Ave., Vienna.

* 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17 — South Parkersburg Public Library, 1807 Blizzard Drive, Parkersburg.

More information about the down payment assistance and other housing programs can be found online at www.parkersburgcity.com/housing.

Questions regarding the application process and eligibility requirements may be directed to the Development Department at 304-424-8519.

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