Carole Brown and Kurt Summers
Chicago is only as strong as its neighborhoods. They form the core of our character and by working together we can make them even stronger. One of the best ways to build stronger neighborhoods in Chicago is to provide Chicago’s working families with a viable pathway to homeownership.
This week, the City Council approved Mayor Emanuel’s ordinance to do just that. Operated by the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, the newly enacted City of Chicago Home Buyer Assistance Program will strengthen our neighborhoods by providing working families in Chicago with financial support for down payments and closing costs on a new home.
Under the mayor’s program, qualified home buyers can receive a grant of up to 7 percent of the total mortgage amount to cover all or a portion of their down payment and closing costs.
First time buyers must complete a home buyer education course to qualify. While the city will provide $1 million to launch the program, it will become self-sustaining over time.
The city is launching this program now because Emanuel understands that Building One Chicago starts by driving economic growth and development on every block of every neighborhood in Chicago. Strong, diverse and vibrant communities are anchored by families who own their homes and the city will do all that it can to support investment in our neighborhoods.
With Chicago’s economy experiencing growth after the Great Recession, home sales and home values are on the rise and interest rates are at historic lows. The Mayor’s Home Buyer Assistance Program will allow all Chicagoans to benefit from this economic progress by removing the financial barriers to homeownership that many of Chicago’s working families face.
This program will make the path to homeownership affordable and accessible to everyone.
Mayor Emanuel is focused on the goal of building a stronger, more durable economy for the City of Chicago that gives every hardworking Chicagoan a chance to participate. It has required our city to be more creative and collaborative in our entire approach to neighborhood economic development. We are putting all of the building blocks in place that enable our communities to thrive, from access to good-paying jobs to investing in a modern infrastructure and public transportation options.
This also includes increasing access to quality, affordable housing. In 2014, the city launched a new five-year housing plan to bring public and private partners together to rehab, rebuild, or refurbish more than 40,000 units of affordable housing citywide. Working with the City Council, the mayor also recently reformed the Affordable Requirements Ordinance to create more jobs, encourage more investment, and expand affordable housing stock in our neighborhoods.
This new Home Buyer Assistance Program is another tool in that toolkit. By helping more people afford a down payment on a home, we are making a down payment on a stronger, safer, and more stable future for all of Chicago’s neighborhoods.
CFO Carole Brown is Chicago’s chief financial officer. and Kurt Summers is city Treasurer.