City receives $15.2 mil to aid homebuyers


In the midst of a housing slump and generally tough economic times, the city has received $15.2 million from the state to aid families with home ownership.

The largest sum of money ever received by the city from the Virginia Housing Development Authoritys competitive program, Sponsoring Partnerships and Revitalizing Communities, the money has already been allocated to families in need of aid.  

Were targeting lower-income buyers, said Shane Cochran, program implementation chief of the citys Office of Housing. We have an opportunity to help, and the funding is timely.

Alexandria received the funds as part of a statewide process that pits the economic demographics of Virginias regions against one another to determine the most needy areas. The cost of living in Northern Virginia is higher than the rest of the state, and the states funding reflects that.

The state recognizes the challenge of affordability here, so typically Northern Virginia gets a large allocation, Cochran said. Northern Virginia is definitely higher than any of the other areas.

The funding will be used in conjunction with two other homeownership assistance funds, one for families of four or more that earn $61,500 or less, and one for families of three or more that earn up to $99,000 annually.

The reduced-interest financing provided by VHDA is a perfect complement to the Citys own homebuyer assistance efforts, Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille said. The City has a long history of helping first-time homebuyers and we are dedicated to making homeownership both achievable and affordable for low- and moderate-income City residents and workers.

The funds come during lagging home sales in the city. Single family home sales declined 35 percent in June, according to the Housing Development Authority. The median house price was $416,000 last month, about twice the average paid by beneficiaries of the housing assistance programs, according to Cochran.

For the program, the average purchase price was about $211,000 last year, he said.  We assisted 32 homebuyers during the year. Cochran added that it is a competitive program, and applicants are encouraged to apply early.

While the program aids only families who are buying homes in Alexandria and is meant to assist city residents, the program is not necessarily for city workers, many of whom cannot afford to live in the city. 

These programs are designed to help folks that either work or live in Alexandria, Cochran said. There is an additional program for city and school programs. Cochran said that the city assisted 17 school and city employees last year.

Weve been able to assist more people because the average home price has lowered, he said.

To be considered for the funds applicants must complete a home ownership training course offered by the Office of Housing and be first-time home buyers.