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CKHS Program Can Help Make Buying a Home Easier

In Brief

  • Each year, up to six permanent, full-time or part-time benefit-eligible employees who have at least one year of service are eligible to receive a $5,000 forgivable five-year loan-to-grant to use toward a down payment or the closing costs associated with an eligible home purchase.
  • The home purchased must be located on an eligible street in one of two targeted areas – between Crozer-Chester Medical Center and Widener University, or near Community Hospital. 
  • Applicants must present acceptable pre-approval letters for mortgage financing, signed agreements of sale for eligible homes, and a completed Crozer-Keystone loan application/agreement to Employee Benefit Services.
  • The Chester Community Improvement Project provides pre-purchase mortgage counseling to first-time low- to moderate-income individuals interested in purchasing a home in the City of Chester and Delaware County. 

If you never thought it would be possible to buy your own home, think again. Since the Crozer-Keystone Employer-Assisted Housing (EAH) Program began in July 2008, the program has helped 10 Crozer-Keystone employees achieve the American dream of owning their own home.

Each year, up to six permanent, full-time or part-time benefit-eligible employees who have at least one year of service are eligible to receive a $5,000 forgivable five-year loan-to-grant to use toward a down payment or the closing costs associated with an eligible home purchase. The home purchased must be located on an eligible street in one of two targeted areas – between Crozer-Chester Medical Center and Widener University, or near Community Hospital. 

In addition to continuing to be an active, benefit-eligible employee, the home must remain the employee’s principal address for the entire five-year term.  Only employees who no longer meet these two requirements during the first five years of home ownership must repay a portion of the loan.

The EAH program is limited to six employees each fiscal year who present acceptable pre-approval letters for mortgage financing, signed Agreements of Sale for eligible homes, and a completed Crozer-Keystone Loan Application/Agreement to Employee Benefit Services, on a first-come, first-served basis. The Crozer-Keystone Health System (CKHS) EAH loan can be used for the purchase of an existing home or a newly constructed home, as long as it is within the targeted areas. The loan-to-grant can also be used in conjunction with any eligible City of Chester homebuyer program and with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency program. The $5,000 check is made payable to the title agency and is available at settlement.

“To date, 10 employees have taken advantage of the program. Several of them have purchased newly constructed homes located near Community Hospital,” says Bill Kreider, CKHS vice president of Human Resources. “We partnered with Widener University as two of the first local employers to offer this benefit to employees, and now six other local employers have followed. The EAH program is benefiting both the community and our employees.”

Valerie Smith, of the Nutrition Services department at Crozer, learned about EAH program through her co-workers. In June of 2010, she made settlement on a newly constructed twin home. “I never thought I would own my home,” Smith says. “The homebuyer program was an easy process and very helpful. If you are thinking about buying a home and meet the requirements, it is a great opportunity.” 

In addition to the loan-to-grant program, employees are encouraged to take advantage of many local resources that are available to provide guidance, and possibly additional funding, when purchasing a home. The Chester Community Improvement Project (CCIP), for example, provides pre-purchase mortgage counseling to first-time low- to moderate-income individuals interested in purchasing a home in the City of Chester and Delaware County. The program prepares applicants to secure mortgages, understand fair housing practices, select a realtor and learn more about home inspections, home maintenance and settlement.

CCIP also provides guidance to potential buyers who may have credit problems. Several Crozer-Keystone employees have already taken advantage of these resources and have been able to improve their credit ratings enough to qualify for a mortgage. Employees are encouraged to contact Larry Douglas, housing program manager, at (610) 876-8663 or via e-mail at ldouglas.ccip@gmail.com to learn more about the programs offered, including homebuyer seminars.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Home and Communities website, potential homebuyers should follow some guidelines. For example, employees should understand how much they can afford depending on income, credit rating, monthly expenses, down payment and interest rates. It’s also important for employees to work with a reputable realtor to assist them in finding an eligible property that meets their needs and price range. Employees must determine how much they can spend on a home by confirming their eligibility for a mortgage.

Next, it is important to shop around for a loan by speaking to several lenders, comparing costs and interest rates, and negotiating better deals. Lastly, with the assistance of a realtor, an employee can make an offer contingent to a home inspection. Results from the home inspection will tell the employee about the home’s condition and of any repairs needed.

To learn more about the program and to get a step closer to buying your own home, contact Susan Winkles at (610) 595-6387 (19-6387) or visit the “My Finances” page of www.crozerbenefits.org.

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