Program to help Missouri families with home down payment

July 15, 2018 GMT

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A program could help hundreds of Missouri families with a down payment on their homes.

The NeighborhoodLIFT program will provide homeowner training and $15,000 in down-payment assistant grants, The Kansas City Star reported .

Up to 300 families buying houses in Jackson, Clay and Cass counties will be accepted into the program. The program will begin accepting applicants July 27.

“I understand home ownership and I understand what it does to the psyche of people who own a piece of earth they can call theirs,” said U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver.

The program is administered by Westside Housing Organization and run by NeighborWorks America. It’s funded through a $5.7 million commitment from Wells Fargo, which is working to improve its image after being criticized for opening accounts without customers’ permission in 2016.

The program predated the scandal, said Kirk Kellner, region bank president of Wells Fargo.

“This is about helping neighborhoods regardless of our ‘reestablish’ campaign,” Kellner said.

NeighborhoodLIFT previously came to Kansas City in 2014, when almost 270 families received loans.

While the program doesn’t provide homeowners with funds to rehabilitate properties, Cleaver said he’s working on other projects that would provide such funds.

Cleaver said he hopes to use opportunities zones, which are outlined in federal tax law, to attract corporations to invest in the project. The zones will allow corporations to make 100 percent tax-deductible contributions to revitalization projects in certain areas, he said.