December 31, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

CLCLT Project Director Staci Horwitz had a recent opportunity to author an article for Shelterforce.  The article titled “It’s All About Choice” speaks to the successes of the CLCLT’s Homebuyer Initiated Program (HIP).  The article provided a chance for me to reflect on various aspects of the program.  Three key things that stuck out for me included:

1.       HIP works in both “down” and “up” housing markets.  It was often the only way a lower-income household would have been able to purchase a home when prices were high.  Now we see the opportunity to assist households that never would have been able to purchase a home a couple of years ago be able to do so today as home prices have come down.  The average income of HIP buyers is much lower today than it was a few years back.

2.       HIP is a very flexible tool.  We’ve been able to apply HIP to some interesting opportunities.  Our greatest successes involve using HIP to assist existing homeowners stay in their homes by using the CLCLT affordability investment to make their payments affordable and to bring the home into the CLCLT.  We tried our hardest a few years back to inform Twin Cities housing decision-makers of the opportunity that was available through HIP to provide a way for households that might be facing foreclosure to be able to stay in their homes.

3.       HIP continues to be a “people” focused program.  So often in the affordable housing world, terms and conditions of the housing is dictated to the lower-income household whether it be supportive housing, rental housing, or homeownership.  In this landscape that significantly limits choices, HIP provides the opportunity for households to purchase homes anywhere they chose.  I’m not aware of other affordable homeownership programs allowing this level of choice in the Twin Cities.

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