County’s Home Ownership program growing in popularity

November 23, 2016   ·   0 Comments

Are you currently working in the area and renting your home? Wanting to purchase a property of your own, but can’t due to a distinct lack of deposit money? It sounds like the beginning of a cheesy, ‘too good to be true’ infomercial, only it isn’t.

The County of Dufferin has been helping people for the best part of the last decade realize their dream of buying a home of their own and they could help you, too.

Through its Home Ownership program, the County assists qualifying residents struggling to come up with the required five percent down payment on a property to buy their first home. Since the program’s inception almost 10 years ago, Dufferin has helped guide roughly 100 people into the world of home ownership.

Anna McGregor, the County’s Program Manager for Housing, noted that the Home Ownership program, which is primarily funded by the provincial and federal governments, has been quite popular in recent years.

“The Home Ownership program is something we’ve been doing now for almost a decade and is the direct result of provincial and federal funding. We receive allocations on an annual basis with the idea being that we help people to buy their first home,” Mrs. McGregor said. “It’s a fantastic program and can be a great help to Dufferin residents trying to come up with that initial deposit.”

She added, “The success of this program over the years really demonstrates the County’s commitment to providing innovative housing services in the area.”

Unfortunately, the program isn’t available to just anybody. It’s primarily aimed towards “moderate” income individuals and families with a fairly good financial record. You must be at least 18 years of age, currently renting and earning less than $88,000 total household income with less than $20,000 in assets. You must also qualify for financing from a financial institution to be eligible for the program.

If you are successful with your application, the County provides an interest-free down payment assistance loan to help purchase a home listed for up to $400,000. Essentially, the maximum one can receive through the program is $20,000.

If you stay in your first home for at least 20 years, the loan effectively turns into a grant and you don’t have to pay a penny back. Should you eventually sell your home and buy a new house, Mrs. McGregor says the expectation is you would repay the loan the municipality provided along with a five percent payment on any profit made through the sale. That money then goes back into the County’s “pot” and is made available for another family or individual looking to purchase their first home.

“It’s a very rare thing in social services that we actually have a pot of money that continually keeps regenerating itself. It really is a great system,” Mrs. McGregor said.

While the municipality generally receives new funding for the program in the spring, Mrs. McGregor says it has effectively become a year-round initiative due to the number of people who have paid back into the fund over the past number of years. The number of people taking advantage of the program varies year by year.

“On a quiet year we might only get a half dozen people receiving money, but in a busy year we can be anywhere up to 20 individuals or families,” Mrs. McGregor said. “It seems to be very dependent on demand and the prices of homes at the time.”

While Dufferin isn’t alone in offering this program to residents – every other service manager in Ontario has access to these federal and provincial funds – it is one of the few municipalities that encourages year round applications. With winter beckoning, Mrs. McGregor says she just wanted to “get the word out” and make people aware of the program.

“It really troubles me that a significant portion of not only Dufferin residents, but residents across Ontario, don’t know about the Home Ownership program. We do a lot of advertising, but unless someone comes to our door for service they don’t know we’re here,” Mrs. McGregor said. “As a municipality we’re here to help all of our residents and this program could be a big help to those looking to buy their first home.”

For more information on Dufferin County’s Home Ownership program, contact the Community Services Department at 519-941-6991.

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