Galveston Housing Authority
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Home Ownership Dreams a Reality

In July 2010, a single mother in Galveston, Texas, did something she had envisioned only in her dreams. She purchased her own home, Home Ownershipmoving her children from a small apartment to a new three-bedroom, two-bath brick house in a quiet residential neighborhood. The purchase was made possible by the Galveston Housing Authority's Housing Choice Voucher homeownership program, which allows recipients of Housing Choice Voucher federal housing assistance to apply their monthly rental vouchers toward purchase of a home.

"Our dream of owning a home has come true," the new homeowner says. "Without this program, I don't think it would have been possible." Since January 2010, the Galveston Housing Authority has moved 15 families out of apartments and into houses under the Housing Choice Voucher homeowners hip program. GHA is currently working to place other families in new homes.

Another proud, new homeowner is Maria Lopez, a single mother of two. Maria always wanted a home of her own. She is the Landscaper/Designer for Moody Gardens and would love to have her own garden at home. She enrolled in HomeownershipGHA's Homeownership Program where she had taken the 8- hour homeownership training and monthly Family Self-Sufficiency training. She applied for a home loan months later after receiving Credit Repair consulting from the FSS program director and brought her credit scores up to its requirement to qualify for the home loan. Now she is a proud homeowner from GHA's Housing Choice Voucher program. She said if it had not been for the Galveston Housing Authority's Homeownership Program her dream of homeownership would have never happened. Thank you GHA!

Qualifying families must earn at least $15,080 annually and have been employed full-time for at least a year. Housing Choice Voucher assistance payments supplement the family's income. In most cases, the family uses 30 percent of their monthly income for their house payment, and the housing assistance payment covers the balance. On average, it takes about four months to move a qualifying family out of rental-assisted housing and into a new home.

"A large part of what makes this program successful is that we make sure the families are well prepared to make the commitment, and we provide educational classes on topics such as homebuyer planning and preparation, managing your money, understanding credit, getting a mortgage loan, shopping for a home, keeping your home and managing your finances " says Marla Boyd, homeownership coordinator/counselor for GHA.

Because the program gives families the option to buy a new home as well as an existing one, it offers local builders an opportunity, too. Our clients can purchase a home anywhere in Galveston County.

The program requires a family to provide a 3.5 percent down payment with at least 1 percent coming from their personal funds. In Galveston, the city has provided Community Development Block Grant money to assist with down payments and closing costs.

For 2010, the Galveston Housing Authority has 15 new home owners in the Housing Choice Voucher homeownership program. Click here to see pictures of the new home owners.

     What is the Housing Choice Voucher homeownership program?

The homeownership program allows families to use their Housing Choice Voucher rental voucher toward a portion of their mortgage payment. The voucher can be applied to principal and interest, mortgage insurance, real estate taxes and home insurance. Housing Choice Voucher payments supplement the family's own income. In most cases, a family is required to pay at least 30 percent of their monthly income, and the homeownership assistance payment covers the balance.

      What are the eligibility requirements?

Generally, the program is limited to first-time homebuyers who earn at least $15,080 a year and who have been continuously employed full-time at least one year. Also the program is available to those who are receiving elderly, disabled and handicap assistance. The program also requires the borrower to secure his own financing, which can be a challenge for families without the financial sophistication to shop for a favorable interest rate. For this reason, the program also requires that families attend homeownership counseling sessions.Home Ownership Being knowledgeable about the mortgage loan process and current mortgage interest rates is important for the administering public housing authority as well. The PHA must have the capacity to educate and protect families from accepting financing terms that may not be affordable. The program allows the PHA to review lender qualifications and loan terms before authorizing homeownership assistance.

      What happens if a family's income changes?

The PHA will examine family income and composition annually and make appropriate adjustments to the amount of the monthly housing assistance payment. The payment may increase or decrease according to the family's monthly income. In cases where the working adult loses his or her job because of a layoff or other extenuating circumstances, the family can be required to make a minimum payment of up to $50 and the PHA is required to pick up the remainder of the mortgage payment.

      What underwriting criteria do the families need to meet to obtain financing?

Families are subject to the regular underwriting standards of the lender. The subsidy can be counted as part of the family's income for underwriting purposes, or it can be used to finance a second mortgage. Payments can be made directly to the family or to the lender on the family's behalf.

      How long will the homeownership program participants receive assistance payments?

Homeownership assistance is available for up to 15 years if the mortgage term is 20 years or longer. If the head of household is handicapped, elderly or disabled, the assistance is available for the duration of the loan.

      Are there circumstances in which the homeownership assistance payments may be terminated?

The PHA may terminate program assistance for a participant for a variety of reasons. However, chances of this happening are rare because of the extensive screening and counseling provided these families. If the housing assistance payment were to cease, the family is still responsible for the full monthly mortgage payment due the lender.

GHA received a thank you note from a first time homebuyer who benefited from the City of Galveston down payment assistance and Galveston Recovers Fund along with Galveston Housing Authority Homeownership Class.

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