expanded for housing grants
can now refinance
A predatory lender
and a corrupt contractor ripped off L. 420 member Annette Baird, but DC 37s
MEHP saved her home and refinanced her loan through GMAC.
By DIANE S. WILLIAMS
limits for HomeFirst grants now enable DC 37s Municipal Employees Housing
Program to offer down payment assistance to more first-time homebuyers who work
for the city. And for the first time, MEHP is helping to refinance mortgages for
DC 37 retirees facing foreclosure in Florida and other states.
want our members to know that even in these difficult economic times, their union
is making it easier to get a home mortgage, said Henry Garrido, DC 37 assistant
to the associate director, who runs the unions affordable housing program.
reach more potential homebuyers, the HomeFirst Down Payment Assistance Program
raised its income maximums effective Feb. 13 to make money available to more working
people. HomeFirst grants are now available to single people who earn as much as
$43,000; a family of four can earn up to $61,450 and a family of eight up to $81,100,
and still qualify for a grant. HomeFirst provides grants of up to 6 percent of
the purchase price for a down payment or for closing costs on a one- to four-family
home, condominium or co-op apartment in the five boroughs. (See the chart below
for maximum household incomes.)
HomeFirst grants are forgivable
loans that do not have to be repaid; the buyer must reside in the purchased home
for 10 years. These grants are part of the mayors housing initiative provided
through the Dept. of Housing Preservation andDevelopment.
DC 37 retirees
who no longer live in New York City now can refinance their homes through MEHP.
This feature is helpful for retirees who face foreclosure, or have a subprime
or adjustable-rate mortgage and want to secure a fixed-interest rate mortgage.
long as the banks that participate in our program are licensed to operate in the
state where the retirees home is, we can do it, said Garrido. MEHP
will evaluate each retirees case individually. The closing takes place in
the home state, eliminating the need for those who live elsewhere to travel to
the union to sign the paperwork. Borrowers living outside New York City will need
to hire a lawyer for the transaction; retirees in Florida can call the Retirees
Association for assistance in this matter.
Although banks are offering
lower interest rates, because of the national foreclosure crisis they are imposing
stricter lending requirements. It is still possible for potential first-time
buyers who are employed and have FICO scores above 625 to buy homes in New York
City, said Garrido.
Mortgage lenders are using stricter guidelines and
income minimums that require buyers to carry primary mortgage insurance when the
down payment is under 20 percent of the purchase price.
these stricter requirements, anyone with a FICO credit score of 580 or below will
not qualify for PMI, Garrido explained. People with scores between
580 and 620, will have to meet significant requirements, including larger down
payments. People with scores of 680 and above will be able to get PMI without
To help DC 37 members repair their credit and raise
their FICO scores, the unions Municipal Employees Legal Service and MEHP
will offer free credit counseling courses. For more information, please call MEHP