Friday, August 19, 2011

OC Freeholders: help on its way for up to 22 first-time home buyers

Program Provides Access to the Dream of Homeownership

TOMS RIVER – Ocean County officials anticipate helping 22 additional county families purchase their first homes this year under the Ocean County First-Time Homebuyer Program.

"We have administered this program in Ocean County since 1994 and as a result have helped 406 families purchase their first homes," said Freeholder Deputy Director Gerry P. Little, who serves as liaison to the program. "This Board of Freeholders, with its community partners, is helping families take that big step of purchasing their first home."

The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders is awarding a contract to OCEAN Inc., the anti-poverty agency, to oversee the program for fiscal year 2011.

"OCEAN Inc. under the direction of Ted Gooding, has done a great job in administering this program, meeting the federal and county program requirements," Little said. "OCEAN Inc. has served as the First Time Homebuyer Program administrator and consultant since 1997."

Under the contract, OCEAN Inc. will administer $220,000 in federal HOME funds that will be used for down payments and closing cost assistance toward the purchase of a home for low and moderate income individuals and families.

"We anticipate 22 applicants will be able to settle into their first home under this program in fiscal year 2011," Little said. "Moving into that first home is such an important achievement that comes with a strong sense of security for the individual and their family."

Little noted that a family must meet certain eligibility requirements to be considered for the program.

In order to apply, an applicant must have three percent down payment and meet the following criteria: good credit rating, sufficient income to support mortgage payments, and their income must not exceed the HUD income limit set for the Ocean County region.

"This program helps first time homeowners learn the ins and outs of homeownership," Little said. "The potential buyers are schooled in budgeting and finances and all those details needed to be a successful homeowner. There is a very valuable educational component that comes along with this program."

A total of $3.4 million in HOME Investment Partnership funding has been allocated to the First-Time Homebuyers Program in Ocean County. Homes purchased have a total real estate value of $58 million and the average home price closed within the last 18 months is $155,733.

"This program illustrates the importance of partnerships among public and private agencies here in Ocean County," said Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari. "OCEAN Inc., eight lending institutions and Ocean County have all joined together in making homeownership a reality. The end result of this program is priceless."

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