Down payment assistance is available for Kansas City homebuyers

07/01/2014 2:59 PM

07/01/2014 9:44 PM

Kenny and Zharday Harris have been renters in Kansas City for 11 years, but with an 8-year-old son and a baby on the way, they wanted to buy a house.

The couple found a home they really like in south Kansas City and were delighted to learn they are eligible to receive a $15,000 down payment grant under a new program that Wells Fargo announced Tuesday.

“The down payment, that was the hardest part,” Kenny Harris said, adding that the grant is “a great opportunity to save money. It’s one less thing to worry about.”

Wells Fargo officials say more than 300 families like the Harrises will benefit from the initiative to help low- to moderate-income residents buy Kansas City homes. Wells Fargo is providing $5.5 million for down payment assistance and $500,000 for local efforts to revitalize neighborhoods.

The program is a partnership between Wells Fargo and NeighborWorks America, whose local affiliate, Neighborhood Housing Services of Kansas City, will oversee the program.

Kansas City is the 27th city nationally, and the first in Missouri, that Wells Fargo has selected for its down payment assistance program, which so far has helped about 7,000 families nationwide.

The program was designed to help cities struggling to recover from the housing crisis and to stabilize neighborhoods. Although it is available for homes anywhere in the city limits, the income guidelines mean that many of the homes will likely be in central city neighborhoods, said Brent Berry of Wells Fargo.

The program is aimed at residents whose median income is at or below 120 percent of area median income, which translates to $58,750 for an individual or $83,900 for a family of four. To receive the full grant amount, participants must commit to live in the home for five years.

Prospective homebuyers can apply and learn more about the program at a free event from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 18-19 at Crown Center. Officials predict the down payment assistance money may be fully committed after that event. Walk-ins are welcome while funds remain available, but people are encouraged to pre-register. More information is available by going to nhsofkcmo.org/lift or by calling 816-994-2199.

To reach Lynn Horsley, call 816-226-2058 or send email to lhorsley@kcstar.com.

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