Home Buy Now offers cash for home purchase

July 19, 2011

The city has re-launched a program called Home Buy Now that will give up to $4,000 to Philadelphians for the purchase of a home, if their employer provides matching funds.

“Philadelphia has a world class workforce. We want these talented individuals to buy homes, raise families and pursue careers in the city,” said  Mayor Michael Nutter, in announcing the program Monday at Drexel University. “Home Buy Now is an excellent tool for employers to recruit top talent and for the city to create more stable, flourishing neighborhoods.” The city has set aside $735,000, funded through bond proceeds, to fund the program, which at the moment is focused largely on purchases in West Philadelphia where Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania have signed onto the program as “anchor institutions.” However, potential homeowners from any part of the city, buying homes in targeted areas of the city, can participate as long as their employer agrees to fund a portion of their purchase. Grants in targeted areas go as high as $4,000. Outside those areas the total grant or forgivable loan is $2,000.

It’s expected that the program will help 240 homeowners and generate a total of $29 million in home sales.

Kalatu Davies, a biostatistician at Drexel School of Medicine, is first in line to receive $19,000 toward the purchase of her home in West Philadelphia - $4,000 from Home Buy Now and $15,000 from Drexel – after moving here from Texas.

“I feel as though I can lay roots here and become part of a thriving community,” Davies said. “I can’t really express how much of a financial impact this grant will have. Especially when I consider apartment prices in Center City. When you’re just starting out … the ability to purchase a home seems so intangible.”

She’s now looking for a home in West Philadelphia.

“I’m looking for a really beautiful place where I can someday raise a family,” she said.

Officials said the program will help revitalize struggling neighborhoods and spur business creation.

Her goals were key to the success of the program and the city, officials said touting the program as a way to strengthen neighborhoods and build a stable workforce. Homeowners stay at their jobs 50 percent longer than non-homeowners, which also saves companies money in training and recruitment.

“When we have programs like Home Buy Now we can to do what we can to fill the land up with beautiful places to live, to build some places rehab others, it makes such a difference,” said Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, who was also on hand for the announcement. “It involves and it creates and it invites other development in other areas nearby.”

The Home Buy Now program originally ran from 2005 to 2009 providing 211 matching grants with $696,330 in city matching funds.

Hopes are that the program can be expanded to other neighborhoods as more anchor employers sign up and also to include other homebuyer programs like home buying workshops, home purchase counseling and home inspections.

The program will be administered by the Urban Affairs Coalition. For more information contact Christopher Waters at 215-851-1955 or online at www.uac.org.

Eric Mayes
Philadelphia Tribune