To honor military families this Memorial Day, Governor Pat Quinn today announced the investment of an additional $5 million in state capital funds to increase affordable homeownership opportunities under the Welcome Home Heroes program. The initiative is part of Governor Quinn's commitment to help Illinois' military families transition to civilian life, and to strengthen and stabilize communities by making homeownership more affordable.
"Military families deserve every opportunity to buy a home safely and affordably after sacrificing so much to protect our freedom," Governor Quinn said. "This investment benefits communities as well as our Veterans. By empowering homebuyers, we can create jobs and grow our economy."
In front of the Chicago home of former Army reservist Janelle Hamilton, Governor Quinn also announced the program has allowed 1,000 military families to reserve financing to buy a home affordably and securely since the program launched in December 2011. The Welcome Home Heroes program helped the 32-year-old Hamilton buy her first home -- a fully rehabbed four bedroom single-family property in Chicago's Ashburn neighborhood -- where she lives with her 15-year-old son. With this new Illinois Jobs Now! capital funding commitment, an additional 500 veterans, reservists and Illinois National Guard members can access the Welcome Home Heroes program.
While in the Army, Hamilton trained throughout the United States and was stationed in Germany to provide support to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hamilton, a Chicago police officer, moved into her new home two months ago after renting an apartment with her son.
"I would not have been able to even consider my home without Welcome Home Heroes. The program helped with the down payment and gave us an opportunity we did not think was possible," Hamilton said. "I have a feeling of accomplishment as a homeowner."
This is the latest effort announced as part of Governor Quinn's proclamation of 2013 as the Year of Homeownership. The program features a 30-year fixed-rate loan (currently 4.25 percent), $10,000 forgivable grant toward the purchase of a new home, as well as a mortgage tax credit worth up to $20,000 over the life of the loan. As the state housing finance agency, the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) administers the program through its approved lenders. A list of lenders is available at www.ihda.org.
Veterans returning home face a special set of obstacles to homeownership, and women are the fastest growing segment of the Veteran population -- many of whom are raising children on their own. Many Veterans are underemployed, and while they qualify for job training programs -- conventional home loans feature heightened down payment and credit requirements. Nearly 1 million Veteran homeowners face severe housing cost burdens, paying half or more of their income for housing, according to a 2010 American Community Survey analysis.
In addition to helping homebuyers like Hamilton, the additional $5 million investment announced today will stimulate statewide economic activity:
-250 full-time jobs
-$8.4 million from real estate-related industries
-More than $6.7 million in economic activity for the state
-Additional $2.7 million in other statewide spending
"Under Governor Quinn's administration, IHDA has implemented a three-prong approach to help sustain homeownership by focusing on foreclosure prevention to keep people in their homes, rehabilitating vacant properties to create valuable homebuyer opportunities and increasing affordable opportunities for homeownership," IHDA Executive Director Mary R. Kenney said.
The Welcome Home Heroes program builds on IHDA's existing affordable home loan program, SmartMove, also available through IHDA's lenders. The financing package applies to 1-2 unit residential properties located in the state of Illinois that are purchased as a primary residence. Buyers must qualify based on income and purchase price limits, and can apply for the loan package through an IHDA lender. IHDA's mortgages have lower credit score requirements, provide cash for down payment assistance and require homeownership counseling. A list of lenders is available at www.ihda.org.
IHDA also is working on behalf of the administration of Governor Quinn to increase rental housing opportunities that provide veterans who are at risk of homelessness with access to supportive services and skills that will help them live independently. IHDA has approved financing for 289 units of community-based supportive housing for veterans since 2009.
For more information about other programs available to help Illinois veterans and servicemembers, visit OperationHomefront.org.