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State, city set aside $3M for Baltimore homeownership incentives
Aug 12, 2015, 3:02pm EDT
Baltimore and the state of Maryland are starting a new homeownership assistance program designed to boost the city’s real estate market months after April’s rioting.
The program, called the Maryland Grand Slam, makes available down payment assistance grants of $7,500 to people buying homes in Baltimore City. It also includes federal tax credits for mortgage interest payments, fee waivers worth as much as $450 and a 0.25 percent discount on Maryland Mortgage Program interest rates.
Both the city and state are providing funding for the program. Baltimore’s Board of Estimates on Wednesday approved $1 million for down payment assistance grants of $2,500 per homebuyer. The state already set aside $2 million for additional down payment assistance grants of $5,000 per homebuyer.
“With his housing and real estate background, he is well aware that a strong housing market equates to a strong economy,” Robinson said.
The new program will be available starting Aug. 17, according to Board of Estimates documents. It will run through Dec. 31, or until its down payment assistance funds run dry. The program has enough funding to go to 400 homebuyers receiving $7,500 in grants.
Officials want to use the program to encourage people to move into Baltimore. It’s similar to an effort in Prince George’s County called the Triple Play Initiative. Of 400 people buying under that program, 87 were moving into the county, Robinson said.
The program is also designed to help people buy homes for the first time, said Baltimore’s deputy housing commissioner, Ken Strong.
“We have an increasing number of first-time homebuyers who would not be homeowners without the incentives we provide,” he said.
Baltimore City already has a number of other homeownership programs. They include efforts geared toward buyers of vacant homes, low-income homebuyers and city employees. Recent data show the city’s housing market apparently rebounding since unrest in April but still lagging behind the surrounding area of Baltimore County.