Affordable Housing Efforts Hit Home for Milwaukee Family
Jose De Jesus Ojeda of Milwaukee was thrilled when he closed on his very first home. The pressure to find a place to live and to finance the purchase was over. Jose received $8,000 to help with the down payment and closing costs, thanks to grants and housing programs offered through BMO Harris Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago (FHLB Chicago).
Jose’s journey to homeownership was not the usual one. Previously, he was renting a home, but the owners sold the property. Once the sale was final, Jose and his family needed to move out of their rental home within three months. Instead of renting again, he decided to buy a home. However, Jose was afraid — if the loan wasn’t approved, he and his family wouldn’t have a place to live. True, Jose had been pre-approved by another lender, but it included extra insurance premiums and provided no grant funding. Without the extra financial help, he wouldn’t be able to buy the home.
Situations in which first-time homebuyers need assistance are common for the FHLB Chicago. As one of 12 district banks chartered by Congress to improve the availability of funds to support home ownership, the FHLB Chicago created the Affordable Housing Program to bridge financing gaps for people looking to buy a home. The FHLB Chicago partners with member financial institutions in Illinois and Wisconsin, including BMO Harris Bank, as well as with community developers and public agencies.
As a member bank working with community-based housing sponsors to submit grant applications to the FHLB Chicago, BMO Harris can offer this money in the form of down-payment or closing-cost assistance to its customers in Wisconsin and Illinois. In Jose’s case, BMO partnered with the United Community Center (UCC) and was one of 24 grant recipients.
“The longstanding partnership between the United Community Center and BMO Harris Bank has resulted in hundreds of families realizing their dreams of homeownership,” says Ricardo Diaz, Executive Director of the UCC. “The impact to those families and to the Milwaukee community will be felt far into the future.” When Jose attended a first-time homeowner seminar at the UCC, he heard about the FHLB Chicago, its relationship with BMO Harris and the Affordable Housing Program grant. Later in the process, Jose was introduced to Manny Garcia, a BMO Harris mortgage banker, who walked him through the home buying process, keeping him informed every step of the way.
“I feel very happy to be a homeowner,” he says. “I was scared, but one of the things that calmed my fears was being in contact with (BMO Harris banker) Manny Garcia, the people at UCC and my real estate agent. They explained the home buying process to me and I received a lot of support.”
In September 2013, all of Jose’s fears disappeared when he closed on his new home.
Jose is already planning to pay off his 30-year mortgage early by putting extra money toward the principal balance every year. Today, he, his wife and three children are enjoying the comfort and security of their first home, thanks to the partnership between the FHLB Chicago’s Affordable Housing Program, the UCC and BMO Harris Bank.