City To Offer Assistance To Two First Time Home Buyers 

(WMG) One of the least affordable cities in the Broward County will soon be offering first-time buyers affordable housing assistance.

But get in line fast if you think you qualify: Wilton Manors only has enough money to assist two buyers in this city of 12,000 residents. 

 The city is earmarking the last $100,000 from its Affordable Housing Trust Fund for this endeavor. Distribution of these funds will deplete the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which is composed of money developers had to contribute if they didn’t include affordable housing units in their projects. 

 Earlier this year, an additional $200,000 from the fund was earmarked for a 48-unit LGBT-friendly affordable housing project for seniors slated for construction at the Pride Center at Equality Park.

 Vice Mayor Tom Green, a strong supporter of the initiative, said the program will add new taxpayers, as opposed to using the money for rent and repair subsidies.

“The [recipients] will become taxpayers. Again, what do you do with not very much money?” Green said. “It seemed the most efficientway for the city to use this money to help someone without incurring continuing costs if it were a rental subsidy program.”

The city is entering into an interlocal agreement with Broward County to administer the first time homebuyers program, at a cost of $15,000. The remaining $85,000 will be distributed to two homebuyers, according to city records.

An income category chart provided by the city states that eligible homes for assistance must have a maximum sale or assessed value of $317,647.

According to the Broward County Property Appraiser’s website, the average market value of a Wilton Manors home is $410,764. And property values here continue to rise. Wilton Manors property values rose 7.73 percent from a year ago, according to City Manager Leigh Ann Henderson.

Wilton Manors realtor Jimmy Cunningham, ranked among the top 100 realtors in Florida, wondered how someone who fit HUD’s income parameters for “extremely low” ($25,100 for a family of four), “very low” ($40,400 for family of four) and “low” ($64,650 for a family of four) income could afford a house in Wilton Manors even with assistance. 

“A mortgage basically costs you $500 per $100,000 plus taxes and insurance,” said Cunningham, whose annual real estate sales total about $12 million.  “Here’s my reality: in my world if somebody called with me a family of four on a tight income, I would probably encourage them to buy somewhere else. It’s not really an affordable family neighborhood or even an affordable neighborhood period. It’s one of the most expensive areas in the county.”

 Wilton Manors condos aren’t cheap either, Cunningham pointed out.

“A two/one condo averages about $140,000 and they are 650 square feet. They are pretty small and that is probably the most affordable,” Cunningham noted. “In general terms condos require about 20 percent down … and that is not really a first-time home buyer’s budget.”

 He noted that most of people who are buying in Wilton Manors are not first-time homebuyers. 

 “The people who buy homes here for the most part are the people who are coming from other areas like Chicago, New York, and Washington DC,” he said.

City commissioner Gary Resnick, who was late for the Dec. 11 commission meeting and missed voting on the first-time homebuyers program, said he doesn’t believe it is a good use of taxpayer dollars.

“I wanted to cap the amount of money that anyone could get or the value of the home so it could help more people,” Resnick said.  

Commissioner Julie Carson said the Affordable Housing Trust Fund sat dormant for years and she is glad to see it going to good use.

 

“Is it a good use of taxpayer dollars? I think it absolutely is because we are assisting people to purchase homes in Wilton Manors. That is why the fund was established,” Carson said.


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