Low-and-moderate income (LMI) homebuyers have particularly been affected by the housing market’s volatile interest rates, keeping the dream of homeownership out of reach for many.
It’s a challenge that requires innovative solutions, which is why Valley joined the Delray Beach Community Development Corporation (DBCDC), the County of Palm Beach’s Department of Housing and Economic Development, and Thrive Collective, a community asset development firm that supports community regeneration efforts, in a first-of-its kind collaboration to create homebuying opportunities for LMI buyers who had ownership in vacant land in Delray Beach, Florida.
The collaboration began in 2020 when a handful of LMI families who had inherited land needed assistance to build affordable homes. Valley joined the effort after an introduction between the Residential Mortgage team and Thrive Collective by Thais Sullivan, National Director of Community Lending at Valley.
With all four entities united by one common goal – to increase opportunities for affordable homeownership – Amy Robbins, Mortgage Branch Manager, and Serina LoRe, Mortgage Sales Manager, spearheaded the loan process for each family by helping them secure loans through Valley’s Community Advantage program.
Designed to help LMI households achieve homeownership, the Community Advantage program offers pre-and post-purchase counseling for first-time homebuyers whose income is less than 80% of the area median income. Homebuyers who are approved for the program are eligible to receive an affordable 30-year fixed rate loan without the need for private mortgage insurance, making the dream of homeownership a reality.
“This effort was unique in that a collaboration of this level – and for landowners who had inherited vacant land – had never been done before in South Florida,” said Amy Robbins, Mortgage Branch Manager at Valley Bank. “It required a lot of out-of-the-box thinking from our mortgage and underwriting departments to help these owners establish homes for their families. Now, the value of these properties has exponentially increased, helping each of these LMI families build wealth.”
To date, three families have received affordable loans from the Community Advantage program, allowing them to construct homes on land inherited from their parents, grandparents, and extended family in Delray Beach. Those loans, along with financial aid from the County of Palm Beach’s Department of Housing and Economic Development to assist with the closing costs, has allowed each family to close on their home in August 2023.
Today, the property value of each family’s home and land has skyrocketed – with each property now worth over $600,000. The spike in value has afforded these families a foundation of wealth that will carry on to the next generation.
“It’s this kind of creative and strategic thinking that made this collaboration so successful,” said Serina LoRe, Mortgage Sales Manager at Valley Bank. “We’re thankful to have worked with terrific partners who share our mission to increase access to affordable homeownership. Their commitment has made a real difference for these families.”
In addition to our work with Thrive Collective, Valley has been a longtime partner of the Oasis of Hope Community Development Corporation, Inc.’s Housing Solutions program – an organization that provides basic community housing services to LMI individuals and families in South Florida.
Through this partnership, Valley has conducted homebuyer education courses to teach first-time homebuyers about homeownership readiness with course topics that range from budgeting and credit to financial maintenance. Valley has also provided lines of credit and mortgages to Oasis of Hope’s Housing Solutions, enabling the construction of affordable housing solutions for LMI individuals and folks facing homelessness.
“The impact of these projects cannot be understated,” said Charles Keys, CSR-CRA Officer at Valley Bank. “One of the first projects we did with Oasis of Hope supported the construction of a six-bedroom apartment complex that provided housing for survivors of domestic abuse. We’re thankful for the opportunity to work with organizations like Oasis of Hope whose work is making a meaningful difference for these folks.”
To learn more about the need for affordable housing and the work of our partners, please visit the links below.