While banks around the nation are getting stingier about loaning money – a trend that's led to a catastrophic drop in the homeownership this summer — the Portland Housing Center just won $750,000 to continue building on its record number of clients turned into first time homebuyers this year.
The national nonprofit Community Development Financial Institutions has named PHC — a local community development assistance group — among 180 around the country given significant cash awards to help pay families' down payments and closing costs on their first homes.
"The biggest obstacle for many homebuyers is the inability — not to make monthly payments — but to make the down payment or closing costs necessary to get into a house," says the PHC's Deputy Director Felicia Tripp. "We'll be able to provide that bridge through our CDFI award to be able to help specifically first time home buyers get into homeownership."
This week the Associated Press reported home sales fell 27 percent in July to the lowest level in 15 years, despite the lowest mortgage rates in decades and bargain prices in many areas.
The sales plunge was the biggest one-month drop in more than 40 years. It hit all areas of the nation, triggering fears that the economic recovery in fact has been defeated.
Nationwide, reports indicate community lenders are leaping in to serve potential borrowers that big banks have locked out.
Tripp says despite the collapsed economy, the fiscal year ending in June set a record for Portland-area PHC clients gaining the keys to their first homes.
"We exceeded our goal by over 200 home owners, and so that's just unheard of even for us," she says.
With this new grant the organization can help even more households, and Tripp says there are two easy ways you can tap into PHC's services.
First, come to their office at any of the two weekly orientations the first or third Wednesday from 6 to 7 p.m. at 3233 Northeast Sandy Blvd. (call 503-282-7744 for more information).
Or, just register online at www.portlandhousingcenter.org
Tripp said the funds are given out to clients throughout the Portland metro area, but the organization's mission is to help a targeted base of local residents.
"One of our big goals is also to help the city close its minority home ownership gap, so we're also hoping that these funds go to communities of color especially, and single female headed households and other communities that have much more difficulty reaching the goals of home ownership," she said.
The PHC's annual breakfast, Oct. 15, is sponsored by Portland State University College of Urban & Public Affairs. The event features loads of information about local homeownership and networking on how to serve more families who could benefit from the stability and investment of owning their own home.
"One of the things we're going to talk about is different strategies we can use to work together to create homeowners in the Portland metropolitan area, and also what are some of the trends that are happening in the state in regards to home ownership," Tripp said.
"Within our individual development account program, which is our matched savings program, we had a record-breaking number of people in that program purchase their first home," Tripp said. "We want people really to know this is still a great time to buy, especially if you're a first time homebuyer. Rates are low, there's tons of housing stock, this is a great time to buy."