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WV 'Movin' Up' home ownership program expands to higher incomes

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The West Virginia Housing Development Fund wants moderate-income West Virginians to be able to make a change.

Its newest home ownership program, the Movin' Up program, started in January, and despite a lot of enthusiasm, it didn't have a lot of production, according to WVHDF Senior Director of Single Family Loan Origination David Rathbun.

So, the program is changing.

"What happened was we went out with an income limit and a house price limit, and we waived the first-time home buyer limit, and it went over pretty well," Rathbun explained. "After we listened to the lenders and the Realtors, we realized if we were to expand or increase our income gap on the program, that we probably would help many, many more families acquire their second home or even their first home in some cases."

Rathbun said the program is aimed at helping families with down payment assistance so they have the ability to "move up," if their families have grown and the need something bigger, hence the program's name. But, Rathbun said, it also could help an older couple downsize or it could include a first-time home purchase as well.

The new income limits for the program are now $108,960 for a one or two-person household and $127,120 for a household of more than three.

"We want this program to be open and accessible, and we think these changes reflect that," Erica Boggess, the WVHDF's acting executive director, said in a news release. "The foundation of the program remains the same."

Rathbun said the first-time homebuyer program is in every state, but Movin' Up is something unique to West Virginia.

"This is tailor-made here," he said. "It's because of our financial strength that we're able to do these sorts of things."

And the WVHDF will continue to listen to Realtors, lenders and others, in case the program needs additional changes and they're feasible.

"Our desire is to make this a long-term program, therefore, we're going to manage it very closely to make sure it's not just a short run in and out," Rathbun said.

He said currently the WVHDF helps about 1,500 families with $15 million in funding, and they hope the Movin' Up program will add 400 families to that number with $40 million in assistance.