How Mainers can Find Affordable Housing and Down Payment Assistance

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How Mainers can Find Affordable Housing and Down Payment Assistance

The concept of the “American Dream” has been glorified over the last century in pop culture, usually referring to building a family in a safe, suburban environment while living comfortably. Unfortunately, one of the key aspects of this idea has become increasingly more difficult to achieve: homeownership.

Simple Statistics

Looking at statistics from 2019 provided by the American Bankers Association, it is clear to see why so many Americans have struggled to be able to purchase homes:

  • Nearly 1/3 of American households devote more than 30 percent of their income to housing costs.

  • Eleven million renters spend more than half of their household budget on a place to call home.
  • Two million seniors spend more than 50 percent of their income on rent during their "golden years."
  • For every 100 extremely low-income households, there are just 37 affordable rental units available.
  • The average cost of building a one to three-story apartment complex is roughly $192/square foot, meaning the average rent will usually be between $1,500 to $2,000.

In general, Americans are spending a lot of money on simply maintaining their current housing situation, with not many clear opportunities to be able to save for a home. In the state of Maine, prospective homebuyers have been faced with additional challenges, including low inventory, strong demand, limited savings, and zoning and land use regulations, to name a few. However, if you’ve experienced one or more of these challenges, you should know that you are not alone, and there are resources available to help you navigate these situations. Here is some information you should be aware of in the home search process, along with resources on how to make the process easier.

Homebuyer Support Programs

It is easy to feel overwhelmed during the home buying process, which is why banks and other organizations have support programs in place to help. Banks work with consumer groups, nonprofits, and government agencies to foster community development and support homebuyers through down-payment assistance, securing lower interest rates, and closing cost assistance, among other resources. Below is a list of a few of the many organizations and agencies that help families find homes:

  • Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston’s (FHLB Boston) Equity Builder Program: This program provides grants to New England residents in the home search process to assist with down payments, closing costs, and home rehabilitation expenses.
  • State Housing Finance Agencies: HFAs help homeowners spend less money on interest rates, down payment mortgages, and closing cost assistance.
  • Affordable Housing Agencies: These agencies help lower-income families secure affordable housing in their communities. Many agencies offer resources and classes for the financial betterment of their clients so that one day they can work toward being a homeowner.
  • FHLBank Boston’s Housing Our Workforce (HOW): This program offers a two-to-one match of down payments made at the time of purchase for eligible homebuyers making between 80-120% of their area median income.

These programs, among others, are important because they allow people who previously might not have ever expected to own a home, to work towards achieving their own “American Dream.”

Finding Help Locally

Katahdin Trust takes great pride in providing financial contributions to local organizations that focus on safe and affordable housing in Maine. We partner with nonprofits like the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter, Hope & Justice Project, The Opportunity Alliance, Homeless Services of Aroostook, Preble Street, United Veterans of Maine, Habitat for Humanity, and many others. 

In addition to partnering with local organizations, Katahdin Trust also offers direct assistance to homebuyers with Mortgage Loans and Down Payment Assistance in order to help as many Maine families as possible, from Fort Kent to Scarborough. With the Equity Builder Program, eligible borrowers can receive up to $22,000 in grant funds to put towards down payments, mortgage insurance, and closing costs. Katahdin Trust’s Housing Our Workforce program is another option, which provides up to $20,000 towards a down payment for qualified homebuyers with a 2:1 match. Katahdin Trust also offers first-time homebuyer, rural development, fixed/adjustable rate, and construction mortgage loans as well. Always reach out with any questions about this process, as local mortgage specialists are only a call away and happy to help, at 1-855-331-3221.

All loans are subject to credit approval. Property insurance is required. Programs may be offered for a limited time and funds are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis — not guaranteed or reserved in advance. Eligibility and income level requirements vary by program. May not be combined with any other type of down payment program. Ask your local bank for details. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.

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