By ELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times
Many people looking to buy a home for the first time look for whatever help they can. In Liberal, there is such help available through the city’s first-time home buyer’s program.
The program was initiated in 2009, and funds in the program are used to help first-time home buyers with down payments and closing costs. The approved applicant receives $2,500 that can be used for down payments and/or closing costs on a house. The money is a soft mortgage, which will go away in three years.
The program was one of many items on a list from the Focus on the Future committee given to Karen LaFreniere, director of Liberal’s housing and community development when she was made a member of city staff in 2007.
“This was a list of requests dating clear back to 2000 and this was one of those many requests,” LaFreniere said.
Since its inception in 2009, the program has been extremely successful – so much so the funds for the program has used up its alloted funds every year and more than one occasion has come up when funds have needed to be transferred from less-utilized budget items to the program to help it stay funded.
One of those occasions was during Tuesday night’s city commission meeting, when staff requested to take $30,000 from the Builder’s Incentive line and move it to the Housing Programs line item in the Housing and Community Development budget. Those funds will be able to fund 12 more grants, which will make a total of 60 grants due to the program in 2014
“There are still many people interested,” LaFreniere said.
To apply for funds from the city’s first-time home buyer’s program, the applicant need only contact LaFreniere, who will get together the needed paperwork and help get the process started.
LaFreniere said the paperwork is quite easy and the program has attracted both young and older applicants. The city also provides a first-time home buyer’s class for those applicants and one of the other stipulations for the program is the applicant can not have owned a home for three years.
“It really is a great tool to help first-timers,” LaFreniere said. I’m glad people will know about this again.”