Philadelphia Home.Buy.Now program provides first matching grant to new home buyers

Date: 
September 7, 2018

Buying a house wasn't one of the things Tyler Kmiec planned to do this summer.

"We had just gotten married," Tyler said, looking over at his wife Allie, "And we weren't planning on this tight of a timeline, but Allie saw this house and we knew we couldn't pass it up."

Their new home is in Brewerytown, just a stone's throw from Tyler's employer - Temple University - where he works as a Research Assistant & Lab Coordinator at the university's Spinal Neuromotor Lab. Luckily, Temple University offers their employees a forgivable loan that can be used to purchase a home near the university. The home that Tyler was looking to purchase in Brewerytown falls into this catchment. Tyler then became eligible to receive $5,000 for down payment assistance through Temple’s Employer-Assisted Housing Program. Temple University is also a participating employer in the Urban Affairs Coalition's Philadelphia Home.Buy.Now Program, the only city-wide employee-assisted housing program managed by UAC's department of Community and Economic Development.

Philadelphia Home.Buy.Now allows for qualified employees at participating employers to become eligible for a dollar-for-dollar matching grant up to $4,000. The $5,000 forgivable loan from Temple, alongside the $4,000 from Philadelphia Home.Buy.Now, gave Tyler $9,000 to bring to the closing table for the purchase of his and Allie's dream home.

"This program was just amazing. We are good savers, but this allowed us to make sure we had a little bit left in our savings so if something breaks down, we feel confident that we can handle it. During the whole [home buying] process, we just kept that $9,000 number in the back of our heads."

Philadelphia Home.Buy.Now is a newly reinstated program that has shown great success since its first official launch in 2005. Since then, over 410 homeowners have taken advantage of the program, receiving over $1.3 million in grants. Each grant, which ranges from $500 - $4,000, is used toward the purchase of a new home within the City of Philadelphia. A Wharton School review of the program concluded that Philadelphia Home.Buy.Now reaches those employees who are the least likely to buy or benefit from other home ownership programs - including younger, lower income, and minority individuals. The study found that over 50% of grant recipients are people of color, who continue to recover from the 2008 collapse of the economy and housing market.

Philadelphia Home.Buy.Now helps employers provide attractive benefits to their employees. Employer-assisted housing programs have proven to be a powerful tool to attract quality candidates, as well as increase overall employee retention, as 91% of Philadelphia Home.Buy.Now recipients still own their homes. Additionally, grantees save an average of $2,400 a year on commuter costs, by purchasing a home within a close distance to their workplace. Currently, over 30 employers participate in the program, all with headquarters in Philadelphia. These employers range from independent home improvement stores to a chain of community food co-ops to larger universities such as Temple University, centered in North Philadelphia.

“We felt so much more comfortable making the down payment thanks to this program.” said Tyler. “It would have been a lot less likely that we could do it at this time without the grant funding we received.”

“I’m also excited to start walking to the office and not fight traffic.” He added, noting that they’d be saving on gas, parking permits, and public transportation costs.

Philadelphia Home.Buy.Now is open to any employers who can provide at least a $500 grant to employees for home purchase. If your organization is interested in learning more about Philadelphia Home.Buy.Now, please reach out to Community & Economic Development Director Jojy Varghese at jvarghese@uac.org and 215-851-1738.