The state is giving those who may have had no hope of ever owning their own home, those home buyers with low to moderate incomes in Ocean and eight other New Jersey counties hit hard by Superstorm Sandy, a $50,000 no-interest mortgage loan to assist in purchasing a home in those affected counties. And if they stay in the home for five years as their primary residence, the loan will be forgiven.
There are no monthly payments and each year the recipient’s loan amount is reduced by $10,000.
The Christie administration made the announcement of the $25 million Sandy Homebuyer Assistance Program at an Aug. 5 press event in Neptune. The program will help approximately 500 low- to moderate-income families own a home. The applicants do not have to have lost a home or have been made homeless during the storm.
New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency Executive Director Anthony Marchetta said the program offers eligible applicants financial incentives to purchase a home in any of the nine counties most impacted by Sandy.
For the first 90 days of the program that began on July 25, eligible applicants must show proof that they reside in one of the nine counties. After the 90 days, others may apply to live in the counties HUDD identifies as the most distressed.
The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs administers most of the Sandy housing recovery programs. “The goal of this program is to provide an increased opportunity for low- and moderate-income families affected by Superstorm Sandy to buy homes rather than attempting to find rental units in communities with limited rental options due to the storm,” said DCA Commissioner Richard Constable III. “It also aims to stimulate the market for new and restored homes in the nine most-impacted counties.”
Applicants’ income must be less than or equal to 80 percent of the area’s median income and they must have a credit score of 620 to be eligible for the program. The houses can be attached or detached single-family residences or a condominium unit. Manufactured homes are eligible if they are on a foundation and on property owned by the homeowner.
Until Oct. 25, applicants must also provide proof of residency in one of the nine most-impacted counties (i.e., Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean and Union). After Oct. 25, any eligible households purchasing a home in the nine counties may apply.
Income limits in Ocean County are: for one person, $46,050; for two, $52,600; for three, $59,200; for a family of four, $65,750; five, $71,050; six, $76,300; seven, $81,550; and a family of eight, $86,800.
Applicants must work with an approved counseling agency and must pre-qualify for a first mortgage from an HMFA-approved lender.
If the borrower ceases to own the property during the five years, the outstanding amount of the loan will be due and payable from sale of the property or in cash-out refinances.
Prospective home buyers are encouraged to visit the Sandy Homebuyer Assistance Program webpage at njhousing.gov/homeownership/buyers/shap for income eligibility and to complete the preliminary application located on the site. A contracted HUD housing counseling agency will contact the prospective home buyer directly to schedule an appointment. If the applicant does not have a computer, he or she can call 1-855-726-3946 to talk to a representative or visit the Housing Recovery Center at 750 Vassar Ave. in Lakewood.
“The HMFA is excited to offer the Sandy Homebuyer Assistance Program to families impacted by Superstorm Sandy and help them boost their purchasing power,” said Marchetta.
The program is part of the reNew Jersey Stronger housing initiative, aimed at assisting in the long-term housing recovery of communities hit hard by Sandy. It is funded through the $1,829,520,000 Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds that the state is receiving from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.