UPDATE: Rockford Aldermen Vote Down Home-Buyer Incentive Program

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- An update on Rockford's Home-buyer Incentive Program we told you about... Rockford aldermen voted it down eight-to-five.

It was a plan to give certain buyers a forgivable loan to use on a down payment of a house. But that house must be vacant. It's an idea to help rid neighborhoods of abandoned properties. Alderman Tim Durkee tells us the proposal failed, because some council members worry it would saturate neighborhoods with low-income families. And they'd rather focus on mixed developments to spur growth.

ROCKFORD (WIFR) – If you’re house hunting, you may want to take a second look at abandoned properties around Rockford. The city is planning to use a federal grant to help first-time home-buyers get more empty homes off the market.

“There are vacant properties all over, there are foreclosed homes probably in every neighborhood. They attract disorder. People might be dumping there, kids may be trying to get into the house,” said Vicki Manson, City of Rockford Housing Administrator.
That’s why the city of Rockford revamped its home buyer advantage program to help more people afford the home of their dreams and at the same time, reduce the amount of empty homes around town. Buyers can receive a loan between $3,00 and $7,000 dollars to put a down payment on a house. If it’s vacant at the time of the showing.

Filling vacant homes will save the city thousands of dollars in the long run.

“A vacant property costs the city 20,000a year in extra public safety costs and mowing costs,” said HomeStart Deputy Director, Bob Campbell.

But buyers will have to meet income requirements. A family of four can’t make more than $49,000 a year. Plus there’s a long class each applicant must complete to receive a loan.

“Not everybody that might start the process will finish with the process. They might found out in between they’re not quite ready for home ownership.”

Loans are forgiven after 5 years if a family remains in their home. Once the council gives this program the green light, loans will be available until September 2014 or until the grant money runs out.

Because this is a City of Rockford program, only homes in Rockford are eligible. However, this program is for any hopeful homeowner, not just first time buyers.

The loans are being issued by HomeStart, a local nonprofit. To find out if you qualify for the program, you can reach them at 815-962-2011.

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