Mayor LaToya Cantrell, along with the Office of Youth and Families (OYF), Office of Housing Policy and Community Development (OCD), Tanya Bryant of ReNEW Schools, Alex Jarrell of New Schools New Orleans and Thelma French of Total Community Action, recently announced a $1.5 million down payment assistance program created for early childhood educators, teachers in grades K-12 and school behavioral health professionals within the Orleans Parish school system.
The program’s goal is to make homeownership a reality for more educators, which, ostensibly, would positively impact effort to attract and retain public school teachers in Orleans Parish.
“Affordability has been at the forefront and a priority for my administration and the City of New Orleans,” says Mayor Cantrell. “We’ve administered programs such as this for homeownership throughout our city, but there is a real need to focus specifically on our teachers to address systemic issues that we are facing regarding the retention and recruitment of teachers coming to our community and remaining in the profession. Anything that we can do to leverage our resources is something that the City is willing to do, and this is an example of that commitment.”
Development by the Office of Youth and Family Services and the Office of Housing and Community Development, the Teacher Homeownership Program is funded through Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) and Neighborhood Housing Improvement dollars.
“The Mayor’s Office of Youth and Families is thrilled to support the retention and recruitment of our teachers through this homeownership program,” said OYF Director Emily Wolff. “The educators who devote their time and energy to our most precious resource–our children–deserve access to resources that will help them to stay in this city, maintain a quality of life and build generational wealth. We are actively reaching out to early educators, paraprofessionals, K-12 teachers and behavioral health workers to take advantage of this opportunity and would love the community’s help in spreading the word.”
Approved applicants will receive up to $65,000 for down payment assistance and up to $5,000 in closing costs. The exact loan amount a homebuyer will be eligible to receive will depend on the household income, family size and need.
“The City of New Orleans has experienced a significant teacher shortage,” says OCD Interim Director Tyra Johnson Brown. “This program is another tool being used to incentivize educators by investing in education funding to increase teacher recruitment and retention. Although the program was initially developed prior to COVID-19 because of the significant shortage Orleans Parish schools were dealing with, the ongoing pandemic only exacerbated these challenges and increased the shortages.”
- Applicants must be currently employed as an early childhood instructor, K-12 teacher in a public school, or school behavioral health professional in New Orleans
- Demonstrate a minimum of three years teaching or education experience at the time of loan application
- Demonstrate continued employment in education for at least 3 years
- Loan is subject to penalties and other claw-back provisions if applicant leaves the teaching/education profession within 3 years of application
- Meet the income guidelines established for the program (listed below)
- Qualify for a first mortgage with a City Approved Lender who will determine eligibility for the city’s forgivable second mortgage
- Agree to occupy the property (a single family dwelling) as the principal residence for a minimum of 10 years
- The property must be located in Orleans Parish
- The selected house must meet minimum Housing Quality Standards
- Maintain flood and homeowner’s insurance in the amount required by the mortgage lenders and the homebuyer program
- The homebuyer does not have to be a first-time homebuyer
- Funds will be available on a first come first served basis, but will be equitably dispersed across all five council districts
Maximum Income is 80 percent of the Area Median Income:
- $43,900 (1-person household)
- $50,200 (2-person household)
- $56,450 (3-person household)
- $62,700 (4-person household)
- $67,750 (5-person household)
- $72,750 (6-person household)
The down payment assistance will be provided in the form of an interest-free forgivable loan that will bridge the affordability gap between the price of the home, including closing costs and the maximum amount the homebuyer can borrow with a first mortgage.
More information, including how to apply, can be found at nola.gov/community-development/ or by calling OCD at (504) 658-4200.