HOME provides formula grants to States and localities that communities use — often in partnership with local nonprofit groups — to fund a wide range of activities that build, buy, and/or rehabilitate affordable housing for rent or homeownership or provide direct rental assistance to low-income people. HOME is authorized under Title II of the Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act. Program regulations are at 24 CFR Part 92.
HOME is the largest Federal block grant to State and local governments designed exclusively to create affordable housing for low-income households. Each year it allocates approximately $2 billion among the States and hundreds of localities nationwide. The program was designed to reinforce several important values and principles of community development.
HOME’s flexibility empowers people and communities to design and implement strategies tailored to their own needs and priorities. HOME’s emphasis on consolidated planning expands and strengthens partnerships among all levels of government and the private sector in the development of affordable housing. HOME’s technical assistance activities and set-aside for qualified community-based nonprofit housing groups builds the capacity of these partners. HOME’s requirement that participating jurisdictions (PJs) match 25 cents of every dollar in program funds mobilizes community resources in support of affordable housing.
Types of Assistance
HOME funds are awarded annually as formula grants to participating jurisdictions. HUD establishes HOME Investment Trust Funds for each grantee, providing a line of credit that the jurisdiction may draw upon as needed. The program’s flexibility allows States and local governments to use HOME funds for grants, direct loans, loan guarantees or other forms of credit enhancement, or rental assistance or security deposits.
The eligibility of households for HOME assistance varies with the nature of the funded activity. For rental housing and rental assistance, at least 90 percent of benefiting families must have incomes that are no more than 60 percent of the HUD-adjusted median family income for the area. In rental projects with five or more assisted units, at least 20% of the units must be occupied by families with incomes that do not exceed 50% of the HUD-adjusted median. The incomes of households receiving HUD assistance must not exceed 80 percent of the area median. HOME income limits are published each year by HUD.
Participating jurisdictions may choose among a broad range of eligible activities, using HOME funds to provide home purchase or rehabilitation financing assistance to eligible homeowners and new homebuyers; build or rehabilitate housing for rent or ownership; or for “other reasonable and necessary expenses related to the development of non-luxury housing,” including site acquisition or improvement, demolition of dilapidated housing to make way for HOME-assisted development, and payment of relocation expenses. PJs may use HOME funds to provide tenant-based rental assistance contracts of up to 2 years if such activity is consistent with their Consolidated Plan and justified under local market conditions. This assistance may be renewed. Up to 10 percent of the PJ’s annual allocation may be used for program planning and administration.
HOME-assisted rental housing must comply with certain rent limitations. HOME rent limits are published each year by HUD. The program also establishes maximum per unit subsidy limits and maximum purchase-price limits.
Some special conditions apply to the use of HOME funds. PJs must match every dollar of HOME funds used (except for administrative costs) with 25 cents from nonfederal sources, which may include donated materials or labor, the value of donated property, proceeds from bond financing, and other resources. The match requirement may be reduced if the PJ is distressed or has suffered a Presidentially declared disaster. In addition, PJs must reserve at least 15 percent of their allocations to fund housing to be owned, developed, or sponsored by experienced, community-driven nonprofit groups designated as Community Housing Development Organizations (CHDOs). PJs must ensure that HOME-funded housing units remain affordable in the long term (20 years for new construction of rental housing; 5-15 years for construction of homeownership housing and housing rehabilitation, depending on the amount of HOME subsidy). PJs have two years to commit funds (including reserving funds for CHDOs) and five years to spend funds.
Homebuyer Loan Assistance Program
Under this program the County lends qualifying households $7,500.00 or 5% of the purchase price, the lesser of the two, to help pay a portion of the down payment and/or closing costs. The total amount the County will lend is based on the total amount needed to “close the gap” in financing. In addition, the prospective homeowner is required to “match” our loan amount with their money, another grant or a gift from a relative. The county places an affordability period of 15 years on all assisted properties, but forgives the loan from years 7-15 at a 10% annual incremental decrease. The loan is totally forgiven after 15 years.