For Immediate Release
Date: Oct. 30, 2014
The City of Savannah will begin an exciting new partnership with St. Joseph’s/Candler and Wells Fargo to help families purchase homes and strengthen neighborhoods through home-ownership. The program was announced and a check presentation was made during Thursday’s City Council Meeting.
Using the Savannah Affordable Housing Funds (SAHF), the City will partner with St. Joseph’s/Candler (SJ/C), Community Housing Services Agency, Inc. (CHSA), and Wells Fargo to launch the St. Joseph’s/Candler Pilot Home Ownership Program. This is the first time the city has partnered with an employer to promote home ownership.
SJ/C will commit $45,000 to the SAHF to fund the pilot program for the next three years at a rate of $15,000 per year.
“This is another exciting partnership of which the City is pleased to be a part,” said Mayor Edna Jackson. “We are very pleased to see that the Savannah Affordable Housing Fund, established by the City three years ago, is helping leverage funds and partnerships necessary for and beneficial to Savannah’s workforce. We and our citizens are better off when local government, businesses, and non-profits join forces to address community needs.”
St. Joseph’s/Candler has always maintained that good health starts outside of the hospital.
“There are many roads to good health. Having access to care is the most obvious, but lack of decent housing can lead to poor health,” said Paul P. Hinchey, President & CEO of SJ/C. “What we want to do is pave a road to home ownership and by helping with the down payment, many families can do the rest themselves. Home ownership can stabilize neighborhoods, cities, and a family’s health.”
The pilot program fits squarely into SJ/C’s mission, that “Rooted in God’s love we treat illness and promote wellness for all people.”
This pilot program will provide down payment and closing cost assistance to qualified SJ/C employees who are first time home buyers, looking to purchase a house in Savannah and who are interested in living closer to work or to public transportation that facilitates easy and cost effective travel to and from work. This employer-assisted home purchase program is an employee benefit program intended to help attract, retain, and reward qualified SJ/C employees who want to pursue the American dream of home ownership while building financial security. It will be linked, where possible, to neighborhood stabilization efforts being implemented by the City of Savannah and its partners.
These funds are expected to provide at least five SJ/C employees with $4,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance during the first year of the pilot program. Participants will receive assistance in the form of zero percent interest, five-year forgivable loans. These loans are forgiven if participants own and occupy their home for five years after purchasing it and remain a SJ/C employee in good standing.
Wells Fargo is contributing $5,000 to the SAHF through CHSA, Inc., for the first year of the pilot program. “This program is great because it brings together two concepts that are very important to Wells Fargo – community development and homeownership,” said Jenny Gentry, Business Banking Manager and Market President. “We are proud to come alongside the City of Savannah and St. Joseph’s/Candler and are honored to support this effort.”
Chad Jacobs, CHSA, Inc. Board Chairman, echoes the comments made by other partners when he states that “CHSA is pleased to be involved in this important partnership and looks forward to helping expand it to other interested employers.”
CHSA, and its subsidiary CHSA Development, Inc., are non-profit housing organizations formed by City, banking, and community leaders in the late 1980s to assist in the funding and development of affordable and workforce housing. Most notably, CHSA Development, Inc. is the master developer of the Savannah Gardens revitalization initiative along Pennsylvania Avenue just south of the Savannah High School.
Officials hope that this pilot home ownership employee benefit program will serve as a model for other Savannah-area employers. The City’s Housing Department and CHSA will work with SJ/C officials to administer the program and, where possible, link program participants to other home purchase funding opportunities and lending institutions through the City’s DreamMaker program. Employers interested in learning more about this innovative employee benefit program may contact Anita Smith-Dixon, Lending Administrator, with the City’s Housing Department, 912-651-6926.