Evanston is launching a downpayment assistance program for income-eligible first-time home buyers.

Zero percent interest loans are available for downpayment and or closing cost assistance on the purchase of properties located in Evanston.

Households with incomes below 80 percent of area median income can receive assistance of up to $30,000, and those with incomes between 81 percent and 100 percent can receive $25,000 in assistance.

The loans are forgiven over a five or ten year affordability period, depending on the loan amount. If the property remains owner-occupied for the length of the affordability period, no repayment remains. Otherwise, the balance is repaid upon sale of the property.

Participants must qualify for purchase mortgage financing from one of the participating lenders, and must contribute at least 1.5 percent from their personal savings towards the downpayment. They must also obtain complete a homebuyer education program.

Participating lenders qualify the purchasers and reserve funds from the city. To date, Evanston Housing Corporation and First Bank and Trust of Evanston are participating, with additional lenders to be added.

The program is funded with both local and federal affordable housing funds. It was created to respond to the housing needs of low and moderate income households who desire to buy a home in Evanston but are priced out of the market due to housing prices that appreciate at a higher rate than income growth. Funding of $330,000 has been allocated for loans.

For more information about this new program, call the city’s planning division at 847-866-2928.

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