Posted on June 15, 2020
BOSTON --- Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP) have unveiled ONE+Boston, a new program that will utilize $8 million in city funds to help more first-time Boston homebuyers buy a home in the city.
"Creating pathways to homeownership means giving people the opportunity for equity and wealth building for themselves and their family," said Mayor Martin J. Walsh in announcing the program on June 15. "One of the most important ways to close the wealth gap is by providing the ability for wealth to be passed on from generation to generation. Homeownership is a key part of that."
ONE+Boston is an enhanced version of MHP's ONE Mortgage Program, the state's most affordable mortgage program. With additional funding from the city, ONE+Boston is able to offer discounted interest rates and increased down payment assistance to first-time buyers. Features include:
- Boston residents who earn between 80 and 100 percent of area median income will receive a half percent (0.5%) discount rate off the already low-interest rate offered through the ONE Mortgage product (currently about 3 percent).
- Boston residents who earn below 80 percent of area median income will receive up to one percent (1%) off of the current ONE Mortgage rate.
- Qualified buyers will also be eligible for down payment and closing cost assistance through the Boston Home Center.
ONE+Boston gives income-qualified Boston residents more buying power. For example, with a conventional loan, a family of four making 100 percent of area median income ($119,000) could afford a $410,000 single-family home in Boston. With ONE+Boston, the same family could afford a $539,000 single-family home in Boston.
Down payment assistance has been a key to the city's strategy to increase homeownership through programs like ONE Mortgage. Since 2014, the Boston Home Center has provided down payment assistance to over 700 homebuyers, 70 percent to people of color.
ONE Mortgage has made over 22,000 loans statewide since 1990 and over 5,800 loans in Boston, 57 percent to people of color. It is offered by over 40 lenders across Massachusetts. State funds are used to reduce monthly payments during the early years of homeownership and to fund a loan loss reserve, which helps the borrower avoid the cost of purchasing private mortgage insurance.
"Thanks to the City of Boston's commitment, ONE+Boston will expand our ability to help moderate-income households and people of color," said Elliot Schmiedl, MHP's homeownership director. "We've always had great support from the Baker-Polito Administration and we're thrilled to partner with Mayor Walsh and the Boston Home Center to help more people build wealth through homeownership in Boston."
Four lenders are offering ONE+Boston: Boston Private Bank, Cambridge Trust, Citizens, and Santander banks. All were instrumental in designing the program. Boston Private and Santander are currently offering ONE+Boston. Cambridge Trust will join on July 1 and Citizens will join later this summer. For more information, check out MHP's ONE+Boston web page or download this ONE+Boston flyer. More information is also available through the Boston Home Center
Increasing homeownership rates - particularly for low- and moderate-income residents, people of color, new immigrants and first-generation homebuyers - is one of Mayor Walsh’s top priorities. It is reflected in his Housing A Changing City: Boston 2030 Plan. This new program came out of Mayor Walsh’s Barriers to Homeownership Working Group, which included a business group, realtors, local lenders, MHP, and advocacy groups such as the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance (MAHA) and the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO). ONE+Boston is the city's first affordable mortgage program to be created specifically for low- and moderate-income first-time homebuyers, and the first to be developed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the last 30 years.
The creation of ONE+Boston began in 2018 when MAHA and GBIO applied for $3.8 million in Community Preservation Act funds. In 2019, Mayor Walsh announced that the funding would be used for ONE+Boston during a homeownership rally before over 1,000 at the Reggie Lewis Center. In 2020, the mayor and Boston City Council supported a measure that added another $4 million in CPA funds. Mayor Walsh has since recommended that an additional $1 million to support the program. It's estimated that ONE+Boston will help between 150 and 250 residents buy homes in the city.
"Thousands of Boston families, including mine, have benefited from the ONE program, which was originally developed 30 years ago to address racial disparities in lending," said Symone Crawford, Director of Homeownership Education for MAHA. "Today, we are excited to build on that program and launch ONE+Boston with Mayor Walsh, MHP, and participating banks which will help Boston residents buy in Boston and will help us make progress in closing the racial homeownership gap. Some of the 1,000 plus residents who attended the MAHA event last summer with the Mayor will hopefully be among the first to buy a home with this new program."