Thursday, July 17, 2008

New Yorkers with disabilities receive assistance with home buying

From the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, NY:

People with developmental disabilities and professional care workers in Monroe and 11 other counties can seek help buying a first home from a new $1 million federal grant announced Wednesday.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is giving the money to the state Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD) to create a home purchase savings program for income-eligible individuals, their parents or guardians and direct-support workers. The program will be administered by OMRDD's Office of Housing Initiatives and Supports.

For every $1 saved by the individual, the New York State Individual Development
Account Program will match it with $4. The money can be used for a down payment
or for home-buying costs such as application fees or appraisals. Direct-support employees who work full time in a state-run or community agency facility can participate to buy their own homes.

The program will be available to 360 individuals and households in Monroe, Niagara, Erie, Chautauqua, Chemung, Steuben, Onondaga, Oneida, Oswego, Albany, Schenectady and Rensselaer counties. Those counties were chosen for housing affordability reasons. Officials are working to expand the program.

Participants must save for at least six months before making any withdrawal. The typical savings plan will range from 12 to 36 months. In this five-year program, homes must be purchased before December 2013.

Home buyers also must participate in training sessions on such topics as foreclosure prevention, predatory lending and credit counseling, OMRDD Commissioner Diana
Jones Ritter said in a statement.

Since 1996, OMRDD and the state Office of Mental Health have offered the Home of Your Own Program, which provides home mortgages at favorable terms through the State of New York Mortgage Agency.

Home of Your Own is open to individuals with developmental disabilities, mental retardation or mental illness. In 2007, the program was expanded to serve their parents and legal guardians.

The new IDA program is the first Home of Your Own project also open to direct-support workers.