Mayor Jonathan Rothschild

Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild at the State of the City speech.

Thousands of Tucson families could qualify for financial aid to buy a house.

The Pathway to Purchase down-payment assistance program is now available to families who earn up to $90,000 a year to buy a home that costs less than $356,000 inside city limits.

Approved lenders can help families get a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage and a second mortgage that can be used as a 10 percent down payment, up to $20,000, which can be forgiven after five years if conditions are met.

Tucsonans could get the lion’s share of $70 million available statewide, and more than 4,300 families potentially could be helped, said Michael Trailer, director of the Arizona Department of Housing.

A fee added to the loan payments will fund a $500,000 rapid-rehousing program that could help about 100 homeless families find housing in Pima County, he said.

The Tucson City Council approved the program Tuesday and Mayor Jonathan Rothschild launched the program Friday.

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More information is available at MayorRothschild.com/homebuyers .

Here’s what Rothschild said at the announcement event.

  • “We have the infrastructure in this community to move this needle from 42 percent home ownership to where we ought to be as a community. … We’re not looking for 100 percent home ownership — home ownership clearly isn’t for everybody — but when you look at our numbers in the community, we can move this number a big margin if we do it in a way that brings everyone together.”
  • “Homeownership stabilizes neighborhoods, helps families and individuals build financial security, and even has been shown to increase graduation rates, perhaps by improving residential security. Yet less than half of Tucson’s housing units are owner-occupied. Furthermore, many renters are struggling to afford rent when home ownership could be a better bet for them. So it just makes sense for us Tucsonans to try to increase homeownership by putting all available homebuyer assistance programs out in the market to good use.”
  • “We’re in a very different place today than we were 10 years ago during the housing bubble. Dodd-Frank (Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act), passed in 2010, prohibits the unsafe lending practices that led to the subprime mortgage crisis and the recession. In fact, a requirement of most of these programs is completing the HUD-approved pre-purchase homebuyer education workshop. … Homeownership is part of the American dream, but it’s a dream you have to go into with your eyes open, making sure you understand what you’re getting into.”

As more University of Arizona students leave surrounding neighborhoods and move into the towers around campus, vacant homes in the area have increased steadily. In some neighborhoods the percentage of homes that are owner-occupied is less than 10 percent.

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