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GROWTH funds available to eligible homebuyers

Program targets those in Sterling, Morrison, Fulton

Some Whiteside County homebuyers soon will have access to money to help them buy affordable, quality housing.

The Rock Island Economic Growth Corp., or GROWTH, this week received $660,000 for its HOME Purchase and Renovation Program through the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

The funding allows GROWTH to expand its services to households in Whiteside County, with an emphasis on residents of Sterling, Morrison and Fulton.

Homebuyers may receive up to $10,000 in down payment assistance, based on the buyers’ needs and the required loan-to-value ratio of the buyers’ lender. They also may receive up to $30,000 for rehabilitation and home improvements.

The assistance is provided in the form of a no-interest IDHA deferred-forgivable loan. The loan is forgivable after 5 or 10 years, based on the amount of assistance provided.

The program aims to create housing that is affordable and to ensure that properties meet all housing quality, health and safety standards, according to a news release from Renaissance Rock Island, which operates the Rock Island Economic Growth Corp.

The program is different from a neighborhood stabilization program, which typically helps low- and moderate-income people buy formerly abandoned or foreclosed homes.

“Too many families here in Illinois are struggling to afford adequate housing,” state Rep. Mike Smiddy, D-Hillsdale, said in the release. “The HOME program will provide critical relief to working families and help revitalize communities from the Quad Cities to the Sauk Valley.”

The program provides funding for homebuyers in underserved markets.

“HOME funds have been an improvement tool in assisting households to obtain homeownership, while adding marked improvements to housing in our community,” Brian Hollenback, president of Renaissance Rock Island, said in the release.

The cities of Sterling, Morrison and Fulton late last year partnered with the Rock Island Economic Growth Corp. to seek $24 million from the state attorney general’s mortgage foreclosure settlement as part of the Northwestern Illinois Housing Coalition.

The money would be used not only to acquire and improve vacant and abandoned properties, but also to develop businesses on vacant property and provide housing counseling to families, according to a proposed agreement.

That funding is different from funding for the HOME program.

The coalition expects an announcement by the end of the month.

Buyer requirements

People who want to buy homes through the HOME Purchase Renovation Program must:

– Complete a homebuyer application

– Meet the eligibility for and be approved through the GROWTH homebuyer program

– Earn at or below 80 percent of the area median income (A household of four earning at or below $50,500 adjusted gross income would be eligible.)

– Make a minimum $1,000 down payment

– Attend an 8-hour homebuyer education class

Those who are approved then are eligible for:

– Up to $30,000 for improvements to the home purchased

– Up to $10,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance

– A no-interest Illinois Housing Development Authority (IDHA) deferred forgivable loan (The loan is forgivable after 5 or 10 years based on the amount of assistance provided.)

To apply

Homebuyer applications are available from Rock Island Economic Growth Corp., 100 19th St., Suite 109, Rock Island, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. Applications also are available at  

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