By Wendy Osher
The County of Maui is once again offering a grant program for first-time homebuyers. Now in its third year, the First-Time Homebuyer’s Grant Program offers qualified applicants up to $15,000 for a down payment and/or closing costs on a home.
The program was established to assist low and moderate income families obtain the dream of home ownership. Since its inception in 2009, the program has provided assistance to 26 families in Maui County.
“These first-time homebuyers are an important part of our economy because they make up a large portion of housing market,” said Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa. “Besides allowing families to put a roof over their heads, the purchase of a new home also helps to stimulate our local economy,” said Mayor Arakawa.
The program is administered through the Department of Housing and Human Concerns utilizing a $300,000 allocation from the county’s general fund.
Applications and lottery cards for this year’s program are available beginning on June 27, 2011 from the Maui Housing Division Administration Office located at 35 Lunalilo Street, #102, Wailuku, HI 96793. (Office hours are 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.) Applications are also available upon request by calling (808) 270-7351 or by mailing a written request to the Housing Division Administration office.
The deadline to complete and return the requested information is 4:30 p.m. on July 29, 2011. A pre-approval letter from a licensed mortgage lender must also be submitted with the application/lottery card.
Applicants will be selected through a lottery drawing process, scheduled to take place at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at the Velma McWayne Santos Center in Wailuku.
To qualify for the first-time homebuyer program, applicants must live in Maui County, be at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen or resident alien, and meet income and asset requirements.
The county has also set the maximum household income at 140 percent of Maui County’s median income of $106,400, to participate in the program. The income cap as adjusted by the county for the residents of Hana is $91,616; Lanai, $92,666; and Molokai $70,798.
Another stipulation of the program indicates that applicants may not hold a 50 percent or more interest in fee simple or leasehold land suitable for residential development, or have liquid assets totaling more than $75,000, including cash, securities, stocks, or bonds. Retirement accounts and pension funds will not be included in determining applicants’ total assets.
Under the terms of the grant, recipients must repay the grant if they refinance the first mortgage loan and take cash out; no longer use the property as a principal residence; or if they sell the property.
The mayor credited personnel with the Department of Housing and Human Concerns for the successful implementation of the program saying, “Their hard work will give first-time homebuyers benefiting from these grants a chance to move into homes they can call their own.”
More information is available by calling (808) 270-7351 or emailing the Housing Division Administration office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*** Supporting information courtesy County of Maui.