Philly relaunches $10,000 home assistance program for first-time buyers

The money from the city’s Division of Housing and Community Development will help first-time buyers with a down payment or closing costs.

A closeup of detailing on Philly row houses

Shown are row houses in Philadelphia, Friday, April 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The city’s “Philly First Home” program launched in June 2019, offering $10,000 to help first-time buyers with their down payment or closing costs. After handing out more than $24 million in assistance, the program closed in September 2020.

This week, the program was relaunched by the Division of Housing and Community Development and the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation. It is again offering $10,000 or 6% of the purchase price (whichever is lower), to help new homeowners move in.

The program is “one more tool in the city’s toolbox to help make home ownership a reality for our residents,” said Mayor Jim Kenney in a statement. “As Philadelphia continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact, I look forward to seeing this vital program reopen and help even more Philadelphians own their own homes.”

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To be eligible, recipients must be first-time buyers, or have not owned a home in the past three years. Recipients must have a household income of less than the city’s Area Median Income. The AMI for a household of four in Philadelphia is $105,400. The home purchased must be in the city.

New homeowners must also complete housing counseling at a DHCD funded counseling agency.

“Buying a home is the most significant investment most people will ever make,” said Council President Darrell Clarke. “Anything that city government can do to assist that big step for first-time homebuyers, and to help them build wealth and generational equity for themselves and their families, is very positive.”

Within the first 15 years after the grant money is issued, the financial aid must be paid back to the program if the recipients sell or lease their home, or if it’s refinanced to take cash out of the property.

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The first iteration of the program distributed 2,700 grants worth nearly $8,900 on average. About half the homes were purchased for less than $175,000, and 60% of recipients moved into a home less than three miles from their previous address.

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