mark riley

Mark Riley, Bank of America market president, discusses his bank's housing downpayment assistance program as Mayor Jerry Dyer looks on. Photo by Edward Smith

published on June 17, 2022 - 1:58 PM
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The City of Fresno and Bank of America have teamed up to widen access to home ownership.

Mayor Jerry Dyer hopes the city will be able to offer its own down payment assistance program in the future.

The program by Bank of America offers up to 3% or $10,000 in down payment assistance and up to $7,500 in closing-cost help to eligible Fresno County homebuyers. Money from the program does not need to repaid.

The program launched in 2019. Fresno was one of the first cities selected to receive part of $5 billion set aside nationally for the program, according to Mark Riley, Bank of America market president for the Central Valley.

Since then, it has helped about 100 Fresno County homebuyers with assistance just under $1 million

Last year, Bank of America expanded the fund to $15 billion.

“We could talk a year or two from now and there would still be money left,” said Riley.

Homes are eligible based on census tracts. Currently 250 homes on the market qualify for the program, Riley said.

Riley said prime applicants would be those making $40,000 to $50,000 a year, though applicants can earn as much as $90,000 a year and still be eligible for portions of the program.

Mayor Dyer and Deputy Mayor Matthew Grundy said the role of the City now is to increase awareness and get residents of Fresno County into the program.

Not being able to buy a home is only compounding the housing crisis for Fresno residents whose budgets are stretched thin by rising rents, Dyer said.

“The simple fact is people who grew up in Fresno are no longer able to afford to live in Fresno as a result of this shortage of housing,” Dyer said.

Rents in Fresno have risen 28% this year, Dyer said, and home prices jumped 20.2%.

“We know that one of the biggest barriers to buying a home is being able to come up with enough money for the down payment,” Dyer said.

As part of the mayor’s One Fresno Housing Strategy, he hopes to have money allocated in the upcoming budget to create a down payment assistance program.

Grundy said the Bank of America program directly addresses the need for housing in the City.

“Through safe, decent and affordable home ownership, children have the stability to learn, which leads to future job opportunities, which ultimately yields generational wealth,” Grundy said. “That’s what we’re here to encourage at the end of the day.”

Related story: Bank of America makes half million dollars in donations

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