New Orleans Neighborhood LIFT Program Offers Down Payment Assistance Grants

Terry Jones | 1/10/2014, 11:17 a.m. | Updated on 1/10/2014, 11:17 a.m.
Representatives from Wells Fargo, NeighborWorks America, and Hope Enterprise Corporation announced the $5.15 million New Orleans NeighborhoodLIFT® program which will ...

Representatives from Wells Fargo, NeighborWorks America, and Hope Enterprise Corporation announced the $5.15 million New Orleans NeighborhoodLIFT® program which will boost homeownership opportunities for low and moderate income households and to assist with the City’s coordinated development strategy to bring investment into all areas of New Orleans.

Of the $5.15 million commitment from Wells Fargo, $4 million will fund an initiative to help potential homebuyers overcome the lack of a sufficient down payment.

Down payment assistance grants of $15,000 will be available for eligible homebuyers with annual incomes that do not exceed 120 percent of the New Orleans area median income – which is $70,550 for a family of four – with income maximums varying depending on family size and type of loan. To be eligible, homebuyers must meet criteria including completing an eight-hour homebuyer education session with Hope Enterprise Corporation or other HUD-approved counseling agency.

Participants buying homes with LIFT $15,000 down payment assistance grants must commit to live in the home for five years and qualify for a first mortgage on the property. The down payment assistance grants may also be used to take out a new mortgage purchase renovation loan known as a 203k.

“Like many cities, New Orleans was impacted by the economic crisis – and that’s on top of the challenges caused by Katrina,” said Hugh Rowden, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Community Outreach Manager in the Southeast. “But New Orleans is coming back strong and housing is extremely important. While mortgages are available at low-interest rates, some families are unable to purchase a home or buy and renovate a home because they struggle with making the down payment. The NeighborhoodLIFT® program can help local homebuyers realize their dreams of owning a home.”

In addition to providing grants for homebuyers, the Wells Fargo program will also donate a total of $500,000 to help further stabilization efforts in New Orleans neighborhoods. The balance of the local financial commitment will provide homebuyer program support including the large-scale kickoff event.

Registration now open for free event Jan. 31 and Feb. 1

The New Orleans NeighborhoodLIFT® program will begin with a free homebuyer event on January 31 and February 1 from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center at 900 Convention Center Blvd.

Prospective homebuyers can register and learn more about the program at www.neighborhoodlift.com or by calling (866) 858-2151. Pre-registration is strongly recommended for an opportunity to reserve a $15,000 down payment assistance grant, although walk-ins will be welcome while funds are available. The event will also include a Wells Fargo Affordable Home Tour® viewing center where attendees can preview local homes available for sale.

Participating homebuyers can obtain mortgage financing from any qualified lender and Hope Enterprise Corporation will determine eligibility and administer the down payment assistance grants. Approved homebuyers will have up to 60 days to finalize a contract to purchase a home in New Orleans in order to receive the $15,000.

“This innovative partnership between NeighborWorks America, NeighborWorks network member Hope Enterprise Corporation and Wells Fargo will put more New Orleans families and individuals on the path to homeownership,” said Donald Phoenix, NeighborWorks America’s Acting Senior Vice President, Field Operations. “The required eight-hour homebuyer education class has been shown to help homebuyers achieve successful and sustainable homeownership.”