Moderate- and low-income home buyers in Bangor could receive up to $20,000 to help with closing costs and down payments, as the city moves to increase the amount of available assistance through a program it runs.
The City Council’s business and economic development committee voted Monday night to raise the limits on the federally funded assistance grant program in response to rising housing costs.
The increase in available help for homebuyers comes in response to rising housing costs that have resulted in first-time homebuyers in the Bangor area often getting outbid and rising rents that have the city looking at rent control.
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The city in recent years has made a handful of zoning and rule changes aimed at encouraging the development of denser and more affordable housing, but the housing crunch has persisted.
Under the modified homeownership grant program, four-person families making up to $58,160 a year and individuals making up to $40,750 a year would be able to qualify for up to $20,000 worth of assistance from the city to help pay closing costs and down payments when they buy a home within city limits.
The business and economic development committee moved to raise the limits for the closing cost and down payment assistance programs to $10,000 each at its Monday meeting after economic development director Tanya Emery pointed out that it had become much more expensive to buy a home in the Bangor area in the last few years.
The Community Development Block Grant program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and administered by the city Department of Community and Economic Development, initially offered Bangor residents up to $3,000 for help paying closing costs like appraisal fees, credit reports, title searches and bank fees.
Homeowners could also receive $5,000 to help make down payments before the new adjustments. The program would not award more than 50 percent of the required down payment.
The city typically makes 12 to 15 awards a year through the program, according to community and economic development officer Tyler Collins.
Committee members voted to approve the staff recommendation that the program limits be raised and move the change to a full council vote at next Monday’s city council meeting.