(Philadelphia – February 18, 2020)—Eighty (80) former Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) renters became homeowners in 2019, thanks to PHA’s Homeownership Opportunities Program. The total sales figure marks an all-time record for the agency and brings to 428 the total number of homes sold during the tenure of PHA President and CEO Kelvin A. Jeremiah.
“We have steadily increased the number of subsidized families who are ready to become homebuyers,” Jeremiah said. “There are plenty of affordable neighborhoods in Philadelphia, even in the wake of renewed investment in some parts of the city, and our residents are taking advantage of those opportunities aided by low-interest rates. These former PHA renters now have an asset that’s a centerpiece to building wealth. Congratulations to them for seizing the opportunity to find economic mobility and achieving the American dream!”
Of the 80 new homeowners, 35 were public housing residents while 45 were Housing Choice Voucher program participants. These individuals and families have accomplished one of their major personal and self-sufficiency goals. With financial literacy and homeownership training provided by PHA and its partners, these families have learned important skills that will not only be applied to their new financial journey but also will be passed onto their own personal family members and friends.
“It’s a dream come true. I always wanted a house. I’ve been blessed,” said Michael Engro, 57, a quadriplegic who now lives in his own home one block from Juniata Park. “It’s great for somebody that has a disability to own a home. That’s a great accomplishment,” he said. Engro believes that he’s blazing a path for other persons with disabilities. According to Engro, it took him 14 months to find a home, but he had a patient Realtor and feels the home he has was well worth the wait.
Diane Henderson, 63, who retired after working as a security guard at the Municipal Services Building, never owned a home before. Henderson said she wanted to leave something for her children. Henderson purchased a home in Northeast Philadelphia. “I love the neighborhood. It’s a big change from where I lived before. It’s a big change in atmosphere and the people,” she said.
Henderson, too, credits a patient Realtor for helping her find a home she could afford.
Every new homeowner went through PHA’s homeownership readiness process, where they saved $2,000 through new budgeting skills, and completed credit counseling to obtain at least a 620 middle credit score. They also received one-on-one housing counseling and a pre-approval letter from a lender or bank. After completing the readiness process, the resident met with a PHA homeownership counselor to discuss their options with PHA.
Qualified residents also receive mortgage and down payment assistance through several programs: the Mobility Homeownership Program, First Front Door Grant, PhillySEEDS (PHA’s nonprofit affiliate), Philly First Home, and lenders/banks such as PNC and Santander Bank.
PHA’s Homeownership Opportunities Department is located in the Workforce Center at PHA’s Vaux Community Building (2300 W Master Street) in Sharswood. The department hosts quarterly workshops where hundreds of PHA residents attend, learn about the program and start the process for homeownership.
The Philadelphia Housing Authority’s mission is to open doors to affordable housing, economic opportunity and safe, sustainable communities to benefit Philadelphia residents with low incomes.