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September 14, 2023

Worcester to give assistance to landlords and homebuyers in new $2M affordable housing programs

A large light-colored brick building with two curved staircases leading up to the entrance and a pointed tower coming from the center. PHOTO | Timothy Doyle Worcester City Hall

The City of Worcester launched two new affordable housing programs on Wednesday, to provide grants to landlords charging affordable rents and to give homebuyers money for down payments.

The programs were launched with $1 million each of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.

“The two new programs come as part of the City’s comprehensive Housing Strategy that has united all of our housing initiatives, including Inclusionary Zoning and the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, under one umbrella,” City Manager Eric Batista said in a Wednesday press release.

Nonprofit Worcester Community Housing Resources will administer the Downpayment Assistance Program, which will provide up to $25,000 per eligible first-time homebuyer to cover up to 3.5% down payment and eligible closing costs.

The program is separate from the Down Payment Assistance Program funded by a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant, which provides first-time income-qualified homebuyers with up to $5,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance. Homebuyers can not double dip from the two programs, City spokesman Tom Matthews said.

“Worcester Community Housing Resources is proud to lead Worcester’s ARPA Downpayment Assistance Program,” WCHR Executive Director Jennifer Schanck-Bolwell said in the press release. “WCHR has nearly 30 years of experience in housing development, community lending and helping low-income residents access stable housing. We look forward to partnering with the City of Worcester to continue this critical work.”

The City’s Housing Development Division will administer the Affordable Housing Preservation Program, which will provide grants to property owners who have historically charged affordable rents without any requirements to do so. The grants are intended to help keep those units affordable.

“I want to thank Worcester Community Housing Resources and our Housing Division for their creative and diligent work to address the pressing housing issues that our city is currently facing,” said Batista. “We are fortunate to have a number of tools at our disposal to facilitate the creation and preservation of affordable housing units, expanded homeownership opportunities, homelessness assistance, and other key supports.”

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