Espinal pushing city to lift cap on first-time homebuyer loan program

Council member claims grants up to $15K don't move the needle enough in an expensive housing market

Rafael Espinal
Rafael Espinal

A City Council member is formally asking the Department of Housing Preservation and Development increase the amount of grant money available to New Yorkers trying to buy their first home in the city.

The city’s HomeFirst Down Payment Assistance Program offers first-time home buyers loans to go towards down payments and closing costs. The grant amount is capped at $15,000 for each loan. Council member Rafael Espinal claims that sum is not sufficient, Politico reported, and will today ask that cap be increased at a preliminary budget hearing for the council committee on Housing and Buildings.

He believes the cap should be closer to $100,000.

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“In this current climate $15,000 is not enough to help a first-time buyer buy a home in this city,” Espinal said, according to the publication. “The average home in Brooklyn costs $700,000 — so you would need $70,000 to buy a home, that makes it impossible for middle class families to buy a home and live the American dream.”

He said the city should provide around $100,000, but at the very least should match the $65,000 loan offered by the nonprofit Neighborhood Housing Services.

Espinal has also suggested offering benefits to homeowners who agree to rent homes at affordable rates. The HPD said earlier this month that it is committed to increasing the base loan amount from $15,000 to $25,000, an aggregate increase of $1 million. [Politico]Miriam Hall