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Voucher Homeownership Program
Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I am ready for Homeownership?

Owning a home is a huge responsibility and understanding that responsibility is essential to your success as a homeowner. That is why it is mandatory that you attend an approved Homebuyer Education Course prior to purchasing a home. The classes will provide you with information you need to help you decide if homeownership is for you. You should also take steps to clean up any credit issues you might have and begin saving for a down payment.

You can get a better idea if you are ready for homeownership by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Do I have a steady source of income?

  • Have I been employed on a regular basis for the last year?

  • Is my income reliable?

  • Do I have a good record paying my bills?

  • Do I have money saved for a down payment?

What are the eligibility requirements?

To be eligible, you must meet all of the following criteria: You must:

  • Must be a Housing Choice Voucher participant in good standing.

    1. The family has had no family-caused HQS violations within the last year.

    2. The family does not owe money to the PHA.

    3. The family has not committed any serious or repeated violations of a rental housing lease within the past 3-year time period.

  • Must have been a participant in the Portland Housing Authority HCV Program for 9 months.

  • The head of household, spouse or other adult, who will own the home, must have a gross annual income at least equal to the minimum Federal hourly wage multiplied by 2000 hours ($6.55 X 2,000 = $13,100). For disabled families, the minimum income must be equal to or greater than the monthly Federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit multiplied by 12 months ($637 x 12 = $7,644).

  • One adult family member must be working full time, at least 30 hours per week. This minimum employment requirement does not apply to elderly or disabled families.

  • Must have been continuously employed at 30 hours per week for the prior year. This minimum employment requirement does not apply to elderly or disabled families.

  • Must qualify as a first time homebuyer per the HUD definition - not owned a home within the past three years. Exception is made for single parent/displaced homemaker families that owned a home with a prior spouse.

  • Must successfully complete a HUD approved homeownership counseling program.

  • Must have the resources to make an investment of at least 1% of the purchase price that can be used as a downpayment or closing cost or combination thereof.

  • Must sign a Statement of Homeowner Obligations.

What about financing?

The family is responsible for securing its own financing. We anticipate that lenders will take into consideration the HCV assistance you will be receiving, but we cannot mandate it. Some banks may not be familiar with the VHO Program. PHA will prohibit the following forms of financing: Balloon Payment Mortgages, Variable Interest Rate Loans and Seller Financing. PHA has final approval as to whether the financing arrangement is affordable.

The amount you are able to pay for a home depends on your total income and resources and other expenses. The mortgage lender will pre-qualify you for a loan of a certain amount.

Do I have to have good credit?

YES, you must have good credit! If you don’t, a homeownership counselor can instruct you on how to clean up your credit record or contact Consumer Credit Counseling for assistance. However, you may have never established a traditional credit record and that’s okay, but the lender needs to know if you pay your bills on time. The lender will review your record of making timely rent, utility and other payments. This is called alternate credit. For the most part, lenders require no late payments for the last two years and a credit rating of at least 600. If you have filed bankruptcy, most banks require a minimum of two years from the date of bankruptcy before you would be eligible for a mortgage loan.

Do I have to have a down payment?

PHA requires you to make an investment of at least 1% of the purchase price that can be used as a down payment or closing cost or combination thereof, which may come from your own personal resources, gifts or other agencies. You may also be required to make a down payment depending upon your financing.

Are there any programs to help me save for a down payment?

Yes. Eligible families may participate in the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program. If you are interested in learning more about this program please contact Joni Boissonneault, FSS Coordinator, at 773-4753 to request an application or to receive more information.

Women, Work and Community offers Family Development Accounts which help low-income families establish savings for a targeted purpose. Participating families establish a savings account and the savings are matched at a 2:1 ratio by public or private contributions when withdrawn to meet the savings goal. If you are interested in learning more about this program please contact Carolyn May at 799-5025 or 1-800-442-2092.

Can I lose my VHO Assistance?

Yes. You are subject to certain Homeowner Obligations as in the HCV Program. Your homeownership assistance will be terminated if the family violates one of these obligations or is dispossessed from the home due to a judgment or order of foreclosure.