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Community Renewal Good Stories - New Haven

Boosting Homeownership in Urban Connecticut Community
New Haven, Connecticut, EZ

By forgiving 20 percent of the loan for every year a buyer remains in his or her home, the New Haven, Connecticut, EZ is looking to help 100 first-time homebuyers purchase a residence within the EZ's boundaries. The loan-to-grant initiative-developed by Empower New Haven, the EZ's administrator- is making headway. To date, 45 EZ residents have used the $5,000 to cover downpayment and closing costs. "The programmatic goal for homeownership is to stabilize and revitalize EZ communities," says Althea Marshall, Empower New Haven's president and CEO.

The individual development account (IDA) is another Empower New Haven HomePower program designed to encourage homebuyers within the EZ. Some 250 residents are saving toward a maximum of $2,500, which Empower New Haven will match 2:1. The potential for $5,000 in matching funds makes the IDA program more appealing than other, similar initiatives available in the city. To help increase financial literacy and preserve assets within the EZ, several groups funded an anti-predatory lending media campaign.

Empower New Haven, the city of New Haven, Fannie Mae, ACORN, and community housing advocates joined forces to alert residents to this practice through a press conference at city hall, newspaper articles, public service announcements on radio stations, and bus panels, both inside and outside. These panels included a call-to-action phone number for further information. The bus panels feature an EZ resident who purchased her home via the Loan to Grant HomePower initiative.

Empower New Haven has also announced a companion HomePower initiative that will provide emergency home repairs and exterior improvement repairs for EZ residents.

For more information on the programs of the New Haven EZ, contact President and CEO Althea Marshall, Empower New Haven, at (203) 776-2777.