Helping Families Meet Their Housing Needs
Fueled by the infusion of $25,000 from the New Jersey Natural Gas Company (NJNG) and working in conjunction with the Governor’s Adopt-A-Neighborhood Program, Interfaith Neighbors was able to launch a Homeownership Program in 1996 that focused on renovating boarded- up homes combined with new construction to create homeownership opportunities for working poor families.
The infusion of this initial capital formed a “partnership” between Interfaith Neighbors and New Jersey Natural Gas Company (NJNG) and subsequently attracted other corporate and private donors.
Initially, two boarded-up houses made available to us by the City of Asbury Park were renovated and sold to two low-to-moderate income families. Much of the labor needed to complete these initial two projects was provided by the Asbury Park Youth Corps as part of an on-the-job training program.
Since then, some 54 of new housing units have been constructed in Asbury Park, Neptune and Long Branch. The completed homes are sold to low-to-moderate income families at our net cost-to-construct, making the purchase price significantly lower than market value. Interfaith Neighbors receives its return of capital from the sale proceeds and uses these proceeds to invest in our next house renovation/construction project.
Eligibility Criteria and Program Restrictions for Affordable Housing/Home Ownership Program
The Interfaith Neighbors Affordable Housing/Home Ownership Program is designed to provide home ownership opportunities at reduced cost for low income working families. Homes are either built or renovated by Interfaith Neighbors, Inc., a licensed New Jersey Home Builder, working in concert with local municipalities, corporate sponsors, sub-contractors and individual volunteers. The completed homes are sold at below market value to low income working families who would otherwise be unable to afford the high initial cost of home purchase.
To be eligible for consideration, families interested in participating in the Program must meet the following criteria:
1. The prospective buyer(s) must be working full-time (minimum 30 hours per week) with dependent children living within the household.
2. The prospective buyer(s) must be a current resident of Monmouth County.
3. Annual household income cannot exceed the HUD-defined Low-Income category (80% of median) for Monmouth County. These income limits are scalable, based on side of household; for example, the current maximum household income for a family of five is $84,800.
4. The prospective buyer(s) must be pre-approved for a conventional mortgage equal to the estimated “all-in” cost of completion of the home. Interfaith Neighbors will advise prospective buyers how to obtain a mortgage pre-approval; the responsibility for actually obtaining the pre-approval rests solely with the prospective buyer. In addition, any cost incurred during the effort to obtain a mortgage pre-approval and/or commitment is the responsibility of the prospective buyer.
5. Families that currently own residential property or properties, or that have owned such properties within the past 3 years are not eligible to participate in this program.
6. At the request of Interfaith Neighbors and its program sponsors, the prospective buyers must be willing to participate fully in dedication ceremonies and/or publicity events associated with the home closing which are designed to promote the program.
7. Prospective buyers must submit to Interfaith Neighbors a written Expression of Interest, signaling their desire to participate in this program. Forms for this purpose are available from Interfaith Neighbors.
Pathway to Homeownership Program
In 1993 a two-family home in Long Branch was bequeathed to Interfaith Neighbors and subsequently rehabbed by Interfaith Neighbors staff and volunteers from the New Jersey Natural Gas Company. Ownership of this home was retained by Interfaith Neighbors for use as a transitional housing facility. This property served as the basis for what we called our “Rent to Own” program. The facility, which was more than one hundred years old, was proving to be too expensive to maintain so it was decided to sell the Long Branch home and construct a new building in Asbury Park to house this program.
In August of 2020 a Certificate of Occupancy was issued for the new two family home at 147 Borden Avenue in Asbury Park that will serve as the new location of the Rent to Own program that has now been renamed “The Pathway to Home Ownership”.
Working with our rental assistance clients, we identify families that want to move from renting to homeownership. We provide first time homebuyer counseling and credit counseling to the program participants to be sure that they are ready for the transition from renter to homeowner. The family signs a one year lease and pays a monthly rental fee that is below market rate for the apartment. Out of their monthly rental payments, Interfaith Neighbors escrows a portion of the rent each month to be used toward the down payment on a home. It is often the accumulation of a down payment that is the biggest obstacle for low and moderate income families to overcome in their quest to become homeowners.
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