Seymour, housing program will help residents purchase homes

Seymour has joined a multi-city housing partnership in an effort to increase the number of people who live in the city and own their home.

By joining Hoosier Homes, Seymour is helping to make mortgage down-payment assistance more available to eligible borrowers and create a potential revenue stream for the city.

Seymour native Trish Whitcomb of George K. Baum and Co. investment bank presented the program to city council members last week.

She said one of the biggest problems Hoosier communities are facing that there is not enough housing to meet the demand created by increased workforce development.

Local communities and the state have done a good job of attracting industry and commercial interest but have failed when it comes to housing, she said.

“When it comes to having some place for those people to live, that’s another story,” she said. “So we’re hopeful this might be a boon to that and help in that way.”

It’s important for communities to try to encourage people to not only work there but live there too, Whitcomb added.

The biggest benefit of Hoosier Homes to the community is that it creates more home buyers. The program targets families with middle-level income that are looking to purchase their first home, but it is not limited to first-time home buyers.

Eligibility requirements include an annual salary of 160 percent of the Jackson County area median income, which means if a homebuyer’s income is $93,280 or less, they can participate in Hoosier Homes.

“That pretty much covers most of your teachers, a lot of people who work at the hospital, a lot of your public safety people, this covers a lot of people,” she said.

The Hoosier Homes program does not put mortgages into the hands of people who can not afford it, Whitcomb said. It provides financial assistance to people who have a difficult time saving up all the money they need for a down payment or for closing costs.

“The income level is high, and that opens up home buying to more people,” she said.

Councilman Brian D’Arco said although the program sounded like a good way to increase lending and borrowing, he would like to see more to incentivize builders to develop properties.

He said he’s heard from a lot of people in the community that there is not enough affordable housing available in Seymour.

“I think that’s one of our issues right now,” he said. “Developers are not wanting to build say $125,000 homes because their margins are so thin. They are wanting to build $250,000 homes, and people that are out there making $15 or $16 an hour cannot be allowed to buy a quarter of a million dollar home.”

Whitcomb said she is currently working with JCB to become the first participating lender in the program and local Realtors will be educated on how to use the program to turn renters into buyers.

Any bank, credit union or mortgage lender in the community can be a Hoosier Home participating lender, she added.

Although Hoosier Homes is a statewide program offered through George K. Baum and Co. and the nonprofit HPG Network, it’s implemented and administered on a community by community basis, Whitcomb said.

By joining the partnership, Seymour also will have the services of HPG Network available, including strategic planning, technical assistance, capacity building and marketing.

There is no cost or risk for the city to join the partnership, she added.

The city also will receive unrestricted revenue as a municipal sponsor of Hoosier Homes, meaning the city gets 50 basis points on every $1,000 of mortgage origination in Seymour, Whitcomb said. So, if there is a $100,000 mortgage through the program, the city will get $500. If there are 10 mortgages approved using Hoosier Homes, then the city would have $5,000.

“It is completely unrestricted,” she said. “You could use this to enhance your infrastructure for more development. You could use this to fill potholes or build sidewalks.”