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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development
Press Room

Press Release # 31-05
Monday, December 12, 2005

Neill McG. Coleman (212) 863-8076


The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) today announced an expansion in the HomeFirst Down Payment Assistance Program, which provides the greater of 6% of the purchase price or $10,000 toward down payment and closing costs to low- and moderate-income first-time homebuyers for purchase of a new home. For the first time, HPD is now encouraging HomeFirst participants to purchase a home in any of the five boroughs of New York City. Previously, homes had to be purchased in one of HPD's Homeownership Zones. In addition, HPD will now allow qualified, new homebuyers to use HomeFirst to purchase a cooperative or condominium, not just a one-to-four family home.

HPD Commissioner Shaun Donovan said, "Homeownership is a great way for New Yorkers to invest in their communities while they build equity for themselves and their families. In an effort to help even more New Yorkers achieve their dream of homeownership, we have made these two major improvements to the HomeFirst program. This expansion will allow us to provide greatly needed down payment assistance to many more New Yorkers, thereby helping to build a city where people of all income levels can aspire to own a home and raise a family."

The forgivable loan for use toward the down payment or closing costs on a home is dependent on participants completing a homebuyer education course taught by an HPD-approved counseling agency. Upon the successful completion of the homebuyer education classes, prospective homebuyers will receive a certificate that verifies their eligibility for the forgivable loan of up to 6% of the home's purchase price or $10,000, whichever is greater. The certificate is valid for six months, with a concurrent six-month renewal period. After receiving the certificate, prospective homebuyers continue down the path of homeownership by presenting the certificate of eligibility to a participating lender for pre-approval on a mortgage loan. After receiving pre-approval, prospective homebuyers can identify an affordable home and negotiate a contract of sale with the seller. In order to ensure a successful process occurs, the homebuyer education counselors are available to assist program participants throughout the homebuying process.

New homeowner, Trevona Vassell is a HomeFirst success story. She started thinking about buying a home after she saw a HomeFirst brochure on display at a Queens Public Library branch. To realize her dream, she completed a First Time Homebuyer education course provided by Neighborhood Housing Services of Jamaica and kept adding to her savings. Finally, she started looking at houses in Queens where she had grown up and still has family. During her search, she successfully applied to the HomeFirst program. That sealed the deal for the house in Jamaica, Queens where she now lives with her six-month old daughter. Says Vassell, "It felt so good to accomplish my goal; owning my own home is wonderful!"

Program participants must be first-time homebuyers, have their own savings to contribute to the down payment or closing costs and meet certain household size and income requirements to qualify for HomeFirst. $50,250 is the maximum household income for a family of four. Maximum annual income varies depending on family size. Information on the income limits and other details on the HomeFirst Program can be found at or by calling 311.

HPD's mission is to promote quality housing and viable neighborhoods for New Yorkers. The department is the nation's largest municipal housing development agency. Since Fiscal Year 1987, the agency has completed the construction or rehabilitation of over 229,000 units of affordable housing. To request a Homeownership Kit or for information about affordable rental housing, call 311 or log on to

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