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County to offer first-time homebuyer grants

By Staff | Jul 14, 2011

“Besides allowing families to put a roof over their heads, the purchase of a new home also helps to stimulate our local economy,” said Mayor Alan Arakawa.

WAILUKU — The county Department of Housing and Human Concerns will once again offer qualified first-time homebuyers up to $15,000 for a down payment and/or closing costs starting in September.

This is the third year that the county’s First-Time Homebuyer’s Grant Program will be offered to the public.

The program began in 2009 and has since helped 26 families purchase homes.

“These first-time homebuyers are an important part of our economy, because they make up a large portion of the housing market,” said Mayor Alan Arakawa.

The program was established to assist low and moderate income first-time homebuyers with down payment and/or closing costs assistance.

The county’s Housing Division will administer the program through the Department of Housing and Human Concerns.

An allocation of $300,000 from the county’s general fund has been set aside for the program.

Application/lottery cards are available at the Housing Division Administration Office at 35 Lunalilo St., #102, in Wailuku. Office hours are from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays.

Those unable to pick up an application/lottery card may call 270-7351 or mail a written request to the Housing Division Administration office.

Deadline to return the completed application/lottery cards to the Housing Division Administration office is 4:30 p.m. on July 29. A pre-approval letter from a licensed mortgage lender must also be submitted with the application/lottery card.

Applicants will be selected through a lottery drawing process to take place at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 10, at the Velma McWayne Santos Center at 395 Waena Place in Wailuku.

A maximum of $15,000 per grant is allowed per applicant. To qualify for the first-time homebuyer program, applicants must live in Maui County, be at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen or resident alien, and meet income and asset requirements.

The county has set the maximum household income for participation in the program at 140 percent of Maui County’s median income, which is currently $106,400. (The income is established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.)

The income cap as adjusted by the county for the residents of Hana is $91,616; Lanai, $92,666; and Molokai $70,798.

Applicants may not hold a 50 percent or more interest in fee simple or leasehold land suitable for residential development, or have liquid assets totaling more than $75,000, including cash, securities, stocks or bonds. Retirement accounts and pension funds will not be included in determining applicants’ total assets.

Grantees must repay the grant if they refinance the first mortgage loan and take cash out; no longer use the property as a principal residence; or if they sell the property.

The mayor credited the Department of Housing and Human Concerns for the successful implementation of this program.

“Their hard work will give first-time homebuyers benefiting from these grants a chance to move into homes they can call their own,” Arakawa said.

For more information, call the Housing Division Administration office at 270-7351 or e-mail the Housing Division Administration office at housing.hhc@mauicounty.gov.