$2.1 million housing grant to provide down payment assistance

Sue Guinn Legg • Mar 24, 2017 at 11:42 PM

Appalachian Community Federal Credit Union has been awarded grant funding to provide $10,500 in down payment assistance to 200 low- and moderate-income home buyers.

The credit union announced Friday it has received a $2.1 million award from the national Project Reinvest grant program to assist income-eligible home buyers in 30 counties of Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky.

ACFCU is partnering with housing development organizations in the 30-county region to make the assistance available over the next two years.

That includes Eastern Eight Community Development Corporation, which serves the eight counties of Northeast Tennessee.

“The beauty of this thing is it can be used anywhere in the region, the cities, the counties, everywhere,” said Eastern Eight Executive Director Retha Patton.

According to Patton, Project Reinvest is also one of the first down payment assistance programs Eastern Eight has been involved in that is open to buyers earning up to 100 percent of their community’s area median income.

For Washington County, the area median income is $52,400, and homebuyers with household incomes of that amount or less may qualify for the new down payment assistance.

“It should really be a boost to the local real estate market because it will allow people to get into the market who thought they couldn’t get in,” Patton said.

CEO Ron Scott said the credit union is “grateful for the opportunity to help radically change people’s’ lives for the better.”

“Home ownership is one of the most effective paths to building wealth and financial security, and for many low- and moderate-income families it is the only path,” he said.

While ACFCU provides a variety of fair lending options and tools to help members manage their finances and improve their credit scores, Scott said, “many deserving families still cannot muster the initial resources required for homeownership.”

A federally certified Community Development Financial Institution dedicated to affordable lending for low-income, low-wealth and other disadvantaged people and communities, Appalachian Community Federal Credit Union was one of fewer than 20 lending institutions nationwide included in competitive Project Reinvest grant awards.

Adam Dickson, the credit union’s CDFI resource coordinator, said the grant will allow the credit union to enter a new chapter in its work as a CDFI and to strengthen its partnerships with community development organizations in the project’s three-state service area.

“We greatly respect the region’s community development sector and their focus on affordable housing,” Dickson said.

“Being a CDFI, we want to leverage our designation to be of the greatest impact for the needs of Central Appalachia. Using this funding together with partners to change families’ lives for the better is one way we see ourselves as good stewards and effective collaborators.”

While average median incomes vary from community to community, for most of the Tri-Cities, a household of four earning up to approximately $50,000 may qualify for Project Reinvest assistance. For most of the rural counties included in the project, the qualifying income limit for a household of four is $46,375.

The loan limit for homebuyers in that income range with good credit rating and limited debt is $150,000 for the purchase of a new, existing or manufactured home.

Homebuyers interested in applying or learning more about Project Reinvest downpayment assistance should contact Eastern Eight at 423-232-5097. More information about Eastern Eight is available online at www.e8cdc.org.

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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