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State extends Homebuyers Assistance program to Erwin

Sue Guinn Legg • Oct 30, 2017 at 11:15 PM

ERWIN — Officials with the Tennessee Housing and Development Agency and U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, came to Erwin on Monday to announce $15,000 in down payment assistance newly available to homebuyers across the Erwin ZIP Code area.

In a morning press conference at town hall, Roe joined THDA Community Outreach Liaison Katie Moore in announcing an expansion of the Down Payment Assistance program.

Roe said the program will benefit people who live paycheck to paycheck without the ability to save the money needed to secure a mortgage.

“This will help people who would never, ever be able to afford to buy a home,” he said.

Moore said the program was created to help communities that were hit hardest by the Great Recession and was recently expanded to seven new ZIP Code areas in Tennessee.

“We are thrilled to have this in this community,” she said.

According to Moore, the initial $15,000 interest-free loans from the U.S. Treasury’s Hardest-Hit Fund are forgiven over a period of six to 10 years, making it “free and clear money to create sustainable homeownership in this community.”

Roe said the program’s expansion to the Erwin area is particularly beneficial to home buyers because of an abundance of affordable home sites in the community.

Beginning in Nov. 1, the program will be available to qualified homebuyers in the 37650 ZIP Code area, who may apply for the down payment and closing cost assistance along with THDA Great Choice Home Loan through private lenders statewide.

Contact information for participating lenders in the local area is available online at GreatChoiceTN.com.

THDA Executive Director Ralph M. Perrey said the program is “successfully energizing housing markets in the places that need it most.”

“We’ve been highly successful at boosting interest and investment in these neighborhoods, which is good news for everyone on the block,” Perrey said.

With the expansion of the program, Erwin joined Kingsport’s 37660 ZIP Code area as the only two Northeast Tennessee communities included in program.

In the Kingsport ZIP Code area eligible for the program, THDA has seen an approximate 400 percent increase in Great Choice Home Loans since the Down Payment Assistance Program became available there in March.

According to the THDA, the program targets ZIP Code areas that have been “slow to recover from the effects of the recession, especially in terms of foreclosures and stagnant home prices.”

In a statement, Roe praised the program for making homeownership more attainable.

"Just because someone may not be able to afford a large upfront cost associated with buying a home shouldn’t prevent them from owning a home if they have the ability to pay their monthly mortgage.

“I am glad to see THDA’s down payment assistance program expand into Unicoi County, and hope residents will take advantage of the assistance toward attaining the American dream,” Roe said.

Email Sue Guinn Legg at slegg@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

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