Down payment program assists Council Bluffs families in becoming homeowners

The City of Council Bluffs is helping make its affordable housing legitimately affordable for families in need.
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 4:48 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The City of Council Bluffs is working to make affordable housing, affordable.

For 20 years, Council Bluffs has offered a Down Payment Assistance Program to help first-time homebuyers become homeowners.

For some Council Bluffs families, the program can help make their dreams come true.

Amber Reichart is the mother of four children. Right now, she’s paying tons of money for rent. She wants to buy a home, but right now, she can’t clear the obstacles.

“The cost, and being a single parent, and only having one job [is hard],” Reichart said.

Council Bluffs is working with local builders to construct new homes and provide up to $30,000 of assistance to families who meet certain income requirements.

“That includes paying for paying for closing costs, your required bank down payment, as well as some affordability,” said Courtney Harter, the Director of Council Bluffs Community Development. “That last little bit is to help us make sure you’re in range, that your debt-to-income is not to the point that you’re going to be stretched out too far.”

The City of Council Bluffs has been conducting its Down Payment Assistance Program for 20 years.

Harter tells 6 News that while the down payment is a major obstacle for most families in buying a home, there are other factors involved.

“Right now, I believe the interest rates are just over 7 percent, which is a huge impact on your payment,” Harter said. “We’re also working with the family housing advisory service to help with interest rate buy down, so we can help get people in at 1 percent less than what they may be able to get from the bank traditionally.”

All of the homes in the Council Bluffs Down Payment Assistance Program are brand new, and that can save first-time homeowners a lot of money in the long run.

“They won’t have some of those immediate expenses if you were buying a house that’s perhaps 75 or 100 years old,” Harter said.

Reichart believes the downpayment assistance program can help her and maybe put a new home within reach.

“I would like at least a four-bedroom, nothing high maintenance or anything, just something to get my foot in and help my kids,” Reichart said. “Make them happy.”

Council Bluffs officials say the homes in the program sell for around $170,000, which is about half the market rate.

The program is subsidized by the philanthropic community, including the Iowa West Foundation.

For more information, visit the city’s website at www.councilbluffs-ia.gov/2537, or call 712-890-5350.