WABC: 4 Newark families become 1st-time homeowners through innovative housing program

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) — Four Newark families are getting the life-changing opportunity of becoming first-time homeowners through a new program designed to address the wealth gap.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and Invest Newark President presented four families with keys to their first homes on Tuesday.

“Our ability to put homes into people’s hands attacks that wealth gap and gives it to people who need it the most,” Baraka said.

Patricia Hobbs is one of Newark’s newest homeowners. She has always lived in public housing and never owned a home — until now.

“I wish my mother was here,” she said through tears. “I manifested this house, I want to start off by saying that, two years ago I woke up and started writing that I wanted a three bedroom, two bathroom, driveway, backyard with a pool.”

Her positive thinking and a new program helped make all the difference.

Section 8 Homeownership Conversion is an innovative program that rehabs dilapidated properties around the city.

Then through a lottery and favorable mortgage rates from the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, home ownership is made possible.

The recipients were chosen from a lottery of over 5,000 Section 8 voucher holders that qualify for a mortgage through the program.

“We provide the funding for the home purchase, we offer the best mortgage in America,” said Greg Hargrave from Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America. “It’s no down payment, no closing cost, no mortgage insurance fees, below-market fixed interest rates.”

The program is helping to bridge the wealth gap in Newark one recipient at a time.

“I was a foster child, I was adopted by a wonderful family, my biological mom was never a homeowner,” Hobbs said. “So I’m already breaking generational curses.”

The first public housing tenant to receive a Housing Choice Voucher got the keys to her home in July.

Vouchers are applied to the recipient’s monthly mortgage payment and the remainder is paid out of pocket.