The New York Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD), a new Assets for Independence (AFI) grantee, has developed an individual development account (IDA) project to help people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, their parents or guardians, and direct support workers buy their first homes. Other states and AFI grantees may want to use this innovative project as an example to develop similar initiatives in their states to help people with disabilities, their families, and direct care workers become homeowners.
For every $1 saved by the IDA participant, OMRDD will contribute a $4 match. The savings can be used for a down payment or to cover homebuyer costs. Trusts set up for participants with intellectual or developmental disabilities by their families or others pay the monthly mortgage as well as ongoing service needs. The IDA is available in 12 counties where affordable housing is not a problem (Niagara, Erie, Chautauqua, Monroe, Chemung, Steuben, Onondaga, Oneida, Oswego, Albany, Schenectady, and Rensselaer).
OMRDD implemented the AFI IDA program in 2008 as part of its Home of Your Own Program, established in 1996 with the State of New York Mortgage Agency (SONYMA) to help people with developmental disabilities purchase their first homes. The NYS Office of Mental Health and SONYMA offer the same program for people with mental illness.
Participants can apply for SONYMA Home of Your Own mortgages, which offer a very low 4 percent fixed interest rate on loans of 30 or 40 years, 100 percent financing, and reduced closing costs. The mortgages are offered exclusively through M&T Bank, which has agreed to forego or reduce some of its normal closing costs.
To ensure participants’ success, Home of Your Own places savers in first-time homebuyer classes before they attend the financial education classes and open an IDA account. Some of the class topics include foreclosure prevention, predatory lending, and credit counseling.
For more information contact Cindy Gruman at the AFI Resource Center at 1-866-778-6037 or email@example.com.