Haverhill to Provide up to $7,500 for First-Time Homebuyers in Troubled Sections

File photograph. (Image licensed by Ingram Image.)

Reducing crime and beautifying neighborhoods is the aim of a city-sponsored first-time homebuyer program targeting Mount Washington and the lower Acre.

People who own their homes make for better citizens and neighbors, explains Mayor James J. Fiorentini.

“We know that the more first-time homebuyers there are, the more owner-occupants there are, the less crime there is. The more people concerned with the exterior of their property and fixing it up nice, the more people that are concerned about their neighborhood,” the mayor says.

Using up to $100,000 in its federal Community Development Block Grants, Haverhill will pay up to $7,500 for down payment assistance or closing costs if people buy a home and live in it for at least five years in either of the two neighborhoods.

Community Development Program Manager Andrew Herlihy says owner-occupancy is on the rise in the Acre neighborhood, approaching 40% and rising. He calls Mount Washington “more problematic,” with owner occupancy below 25%. As a result, the city is undertaking a special effort this year in Mount Washington.

“We’re going to provide a first-time homebuyer’s seminar later on this spring in the Mount Washington area where we really can help to get the word out about this. And, in addition, where we can find some properties and target the properties that people want to sell,” he says.

There’s another benefit to the program, the mayor says: a mortgage may cost less than current rents. “We hope we can provide some opportunity for people who are buying outrageous rents. Now, the cost of owning a home is actually less in some cases than the cost of the rent.

Besides the seminar, the mayor adds the program also links buyers with banks offering lower-cost loans or lower down payment amounts.

Haverhill’s contribution is in the form of a five-year, 0% interest loan. Amounts owed decline 20% every year the homeowner lives at the property. While the city’s first-time homebuyer is several years old, this year’s push provides $1,500 more assistance than in prior years.

A list of eligible streets may be found by clicking here.

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