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Governor McKee, State Leaders, RIHousing Present Keys to New Homeowners

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April 5, 2023


WEST WARWICK, RI – Joined by state and local leaders, Governor Dan McKee, Secretary of Housing Stefan Pryor, and RIHousing Executive Director Carol Ventura presented keys to new homeowners in West Warwick in honor of the first 100 closings under the RI Statewide Down Payment Assistance (DPA) Grant program. The homeowners, a family of four from West Warwick, received a $17,500 grant to help with down payment assistance and closing costs to purchase their new home under the statewide program, which aims to address financial barriers to homeownership.

“Congratulations to the Cruz family for becoming homeowners. This is what it’s all about – helping Rhode Islanders achieve their dream of homeownership,” said Governor McKee. “Programs like the RI Statewide DPA Grant are key priorities of my administration to create opportunities for Rhode Islanders to build wealth and invest in their future.”

As of February 2023, 41 first-time homebuyers have received $717,500 through the RI Statewide DPA Grant Program since its launch late January of this year. Funded through the next several fiscal years, the program is poised to provide grant assistance to hundreds more eligible homeowners interested in purchasing their first home.

“This program is opening new doors for economically-disadvantaged Rhode Islanders looking to invest in home ownership,” said Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos. “Keeping housing affordable and accessible to local families is the key to a strong economy and a thriving state.”

“I worked hard to ensure Rhode Island has a flexible source of federal funding to help address the need for affordable housing.  We must do everything we can to help make homeownership more affordable for working families,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed.

“I commend Governor McKee for putting this funding from Democrats’ historic American Rescue Plan to such good use,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “Rising housing costs have pushed homeownership out of reach for too many families in Rhode Island, and RIHousing’s Down Payment Assistance program is helping first-time buyers put down roots in communities across the state.”

“Every Rhode Islander deserves access to affordable housing, and thanks to the American Rescue Plan we are making critical investments in our communities that are creating new paths to homeownership,” said U.S. Congressman David Cicilline. “I’m thrilled for all of the first-time homebuyers who have benefited from the RI Statewide DPA Grant program and look forward to additional progress made possible through this vital investment of federal funds.”

“Saving the money for a down payment can be a huge hurdle for many prospective homebuyers,” said House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi. “Housing is my top priority because I know how transformational housing can be – all positive outcomes begin with a home that is stable, safe and affordable. Being able to save for a down payment is a challenge in today’s economy. By removing that barrier, Governor McKee and the legislature are enabling hundreds of Rhode Island families to achieve the dream of homeownership.”

“Between current conditions in the housing market and rising costs across the board, saving for a down payment on a home can be extremely difficult,” said Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio. “This grant program makes a real difference for first-time homebuyers, opening doors to the life-changing and wealth-building benefits of homeownership. Housing in Rhode Island needs to be more affordable and accessible at every price level, and this program is a key part of our work to achieve those goals.”

“The Department of Housing is committed to expanding and enhancing housing opportunities for Rhode Islanders, homeowners and renters alike,” said Secretary Stefan Pryor. “We all know that homeownership is not just about finding a place to live, but it also provides an opportunity for financial security to be strengthened and passed across generations.”

“We are committed to providing affordable housing opportunities for all Rhode Islanders,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing. “The impact of the RI Statewide DPA Program is just one of many ways that we are helping families achieve their dream of homeownership.”

Available to eligible Rhode Island first-time homebuyers, the program offers $17,500 in down payment and closing cost assistance grants. The program is being funded with $30 million of the $250 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) State Fiscal recovery funds earmarked to address housing issues in Rhode Island. RIHousing serves as administrator of the program.

“We are proud to offer this new statewide initiative that provides down payment and closing cost assistance to first-time homebuyers,” said Peter Pagonis, RIHousing Director of Homeownership. “It is a powerful tool to help families and individuals overcome the financial barriers to homeownership.”

Juan and Emelin Cruz, the new homeowners, had recently rented an apartment along with their two children in before purchasing their home. Juan, who supports through his work at the post office and a second job is positive of the support he received through the program.

“Without this assistance, my family and I would not have been able to afford our home,” said Juan Cruz, Jr. “I am thankful for my realtor and the staff at RIHousing for the opportunity to own my home and to be able to pass it down to our children.”

Eligible applicants must be first-time homebuyers purchasing a one-to-four family home or condominium in Rhode Island; meet income and credit score guidelines; and must live in the home as their primary residence. Homebuyers must also complete a RIHousing-approved Homebuyer Education class to prepare them for sustainable homeownership. The down payment assistance is a grant that does not need to be repaid.

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