Philadelphia Home Buy Now
Home Buy Now is helping employees become homeowners in neighborhoods like this one.
- By Christopher Waters, program manager, Urban Affairs Coalition
- April 23, 2015
Since 2004, Philadelphia Home Buy Now (PHBN) has provided $1.2 million in 395 matching grants to participating employers’ employees to purchase a house in the city of Philadelphia. Over the course of the program, 44 participating employers have provided $2.1 million in forgivable loans and grants to their employees for employer-assisted housing benefits. The combined $3.3 million has leveraged $80 million in home sales for the city of Philadelphia. The program also promotes opportunities such as home buying workshops, access to housing counseling services and housing service providers, a home repair loan program and other settlement assistance for employees. This partnership between private, nonprofit and government organizations is a testament to Philadelphia’s cooperative spirit.
Of the current 24 participating employers in the Philadelphia Home Buy Now program, three are categorized as anchor institutions—University of Pennsylvania, Temple University and Drexel University—because of their dedication to include employer-assisted housing in their community development plans and footprint areas. These institutions also offer a significantly higher employer-assisted housing benefit to their employees, ranging from $4,000 to $15,000 respectively. However, it is not just the anchor institutions that see the importance of employer-assisted housing. One of the smaller participating employers, Aviva Kapust of the Village of the Arts and Humanities, stated, “I think this is a great program for the city in that it allows people who might not normally be able to afford houses that opportunity. I think it’s fantastic because you own your own home, which stabilizes communities.”
And that’s exactly what the program continues to do. According to a recent study completed in partnership with the Urban Affairs Coalition’s Community and Economic Development Department and the Social Impact Consulting Group of the Wharton School for Business at the University of Pennsylvania, since the program’s inception in 2004, 91 percent of the homes purchased with the matching grants and employer funds are still owned by the employee. Of the houses purchased, 60 percent of the housing benefits were awarded to low-to-moderate income buyers. The study showed the benefits to the city of Philadelphia are not only neighborhood stabilization, but also annual tax revenue for city services as well as an engaged homeowners.
As the Philadelphia Home Buy Now program reaches the milestone of providing the 400th matching grant, it’s most important to take a moment and reflect that each of these grants helps an employee’s hopes and dreams of homeownership come true.
Christopher Waters is a program manager with the Urban Affairs Coalition's Community and Economic Development Department. He manages and develops the employer-assisted housing program, Philadelphia Home Buy Now.
Metropolitan Planning Council has provided techinical assistance to Philadelphia on employer-assisted housing efforts in the past. We're glad to see the program having so much success!