New homeownership program helps families afford houses in the county

BY LINDSAY MYERS — The Prince George’s County Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and Redevelopment Authority is now accepting applications for a new homeownership program called “Pathway to Purchase.” The program provides qualifying first-time homebuyers in Prince George’s County with up to $10,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance through a zero percent interest loan program. Eligible residential properties include new construction, resale, short sales and foreclosures.

Eric Brown, the director of DHCD called Pathway to Purchase one of the agency’s signature programs.

“One of the important things for the department and the county is to create opportunities for homeownership in the county,” said Brown. “We realized that one of the barriers to homeownership, particularly for first-time home buyers, is coming up with the down payment. Many of them are renters and are able to pay rent on a consistent basis, but don’t necessarily have enough saved up for a down payment.”

Pathway to Purchase is the latest iteration of the Redevelopment Authority and DHCD’s longstanding homeownership program. After the success of My Home and My Home II, similar programs that offered down payment assistance for first-time homebuyers, Brown and his team decided to rebrand the program and broaden its scope. Previously, participants could only purchase homes in select locations in the county. Pathway to Purchase, however, has no geographic restrictions. Brown expects an increase in those looking to purchase inside the Beltway, especially.

Kate and Adam Fowler have been looking for property in Prince George’s County for the past year. The county is accessible to DC, where Adam works, and has impressed the Fowlers with its strong community spirit.

“We love how tightly knit the Hyattsville and Cheverly communities are,” Kate Fowler said. “ We have found a lot of support there as a growing family and are excited to learn more about how programs like Pathway to Purchase could help us settle in the county more quickly.”

Pathway to Purchase also differs from My Home and My Home II because it provides loan forgiveness after 10 years for those who make their purchased home their primary residence. The program is intended to encourage families to settle in the county and continue to build community long term.

Interested residences can apply for the program through the Redevelopment Authority’s website. Participants are selected primarily based on need and on the cost of the home in question. Because the money is federally allocated, the county is limited by federal restrictions on the program. For example, homes cannot exceed $313,000 in purchase price. Income restrictions fall between 51 percent and 80 percent of the area median income.

“The idea of the program is to supplement the amount you will need for down payment,” said Brown. “We will go up to $10,000 based on your income and other money you may have. It’s on a first-come, first-serve basis.”

While DHCD currently only has about $750,000 allocated for the program, they are hoping to set aside money each year to keep it going long term. The agency served over 600 families with its previous homeownership programs.

“We are hoping to increase the number of families we serve over time,” said Brown, “but it all depends on the popularity of the program and the number of people who apply.”

For more information, check out the Redevelopment Authority’s page on the county website at PrinceGeorgesCountyMD.gov.