Sarah and Jason Burton were about to buy a house when he lost his job as a welder’s assistant in August 2013 putting on hold their dream of owning a home.
The Fresno couple, who married that October, moved in with Sarah Burton’s parents cramming wedding gifts and other household items into one bedroom. It would be two years before Jason Burton found another job helping to jump start a new search for a house.
The Burtons qualified and bought a 1,400-square-foot home with three bedrooms and 1 ½ bathrooms in central Fresno with no money out of pocket. They closed Aug. 10. Without the help, the couple would have used a small downpayment grant from a different program and two third-party loans that they would have to pay back.
“I really don’t think we would have moved into a house this quickly without the $15,000,” Sarah Burton said.
The $7.5 million HomeLIFT Program was introduced to residents in the Fresno, Modesto and Stockton areas in April as a way to help low- to moderate-income homebuyers buy a home. The San Joaquin Valley cities are the first in California to receive the grants. The program has helped more than 9,700 buyers in 38 cities across the country since 2012.
As of Aug. 28, the program has funded 61 grants in the Valley for a total of $915,000, a representative for Wells Fargo said. Another 115 grants are being processed. There are still 192 grants worth $2.8 million left for qualified homebuyers.
While there are quite a few applications in the pipeline, “we have twice as much money as we have applicants,” said John Fabish, director of residential lending for NeighborWorks Sacramento Region. NeighborWorks and Self-Help Enterprises are partners in the program.
Homebuyers in contract to purchase a home can still qualify for the grant. Buyers are encouraged to work with their lenders. A list of the program’s qualified lenders are available at http://www.nwsac.org/.