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Housing assistance program available

— Direct financial assistance is now available to help make home ownership a reality for qualified Essex County residents, according to the Housing Assistance Program of Essex County.

HAPEC has nearly $300,000 in grant funding available to assist income-eligible, first-time home buyers in Essex County. Interested potential homeowners are being urged to get in touch with HAPEC to see how the Home buyer Program can make home ownership affordable.

To be eligible, applicants must earn less than 80 percent of Essex County’s median income. For example, a family of four earning up to $47,450 a year would qualify, as would an individual with an income of up to $33,250 or a couple making up to $38,000 annually. Housing Counselor Penny Daniels hopes to reach those who want to own their own home but are put off by the high up front costs of buying.

“Home ownership can be more affordable than people realize. For some, a mortgage payment can actually be lower than the monthly cost of renting,” Daniels said.

HAPEC, a HUD certified Housing Counseling Agency and a chartered member of the NeighborWorks Network, has helped hundreds of area residents through the process of buying a home. HAPEC offers monthly home buyer classes, credit counseling and assistance in obtaining suitable bank financing.

Under the Home buyer Program, funds can be used to reduce the mortgage principal, to pay reasonable closing costs or to make necessary repairs to the home being purchased. The funds can be used to buy an existing home or build a new one. An applicant who owns land and wants to build a home could also receive assistance as well.

The program requires a participant to be a first-time home buyer. Others may qualify, however, if either they or their spouse have not owned a home for the past three years. Displaced homemakers or single parents who owned a home with a spouse or who previously resided in a home owned by a spouse may also be eligible.

Funding is based upon need and the subsidy varies according to income. In general, the buyer is expected to pay 30 percent of total monthly income toward housing expenses. After determining the monthly mortgage payment based on income, the program provides the additional subsidy needed to purchase a home.

Interested potential applicants are urged to contact HAPEC at 518-873-6888 or to visit the website at www.hapec.org for downloadable application forms and other helpful information.

Completed applications should be addressed to Housing Assistance Program of Essex County, Inc., PO Box 157, Elizabethtown 12932.

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