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Star Lewis had been renting her home when she came across a Facebook post about Village at Candle Station, one of the communities participating in James City County’s First-time Homebuyers Program.
She wasn’t sure if her family would qualify for the program, but decided to look into it and apply for a home in the Ironbound Square subdivision.
Later this week, Lewis, her husband Brock and their two daughters will celebrate achieving homeownership with an open house. Representatives from the county will be joining the Lewis family for the celebration, as this home is the 500th sold since the program’s inception.
“The quality of the home with what we’re getting for price, it definitely would not have been possible,” Lewis said. “[The program] definitely made homeownership more affordable for us.”
The First-time Homebuyer Program began in July 1989 as the Affordable Housing Incentive Program. The program offers homeowner education classes, credit report reviews and housing counseling to help prospective residents purchase safe, decent, affordable housing, according to the James City County website.
Participants in the classes qualify for a discounted mortgage interest rate. There are also funds available to assist homebuyers with their down payment.
Keith Denny, James City County housing supervisor, said the 400th home was sold through the program in October 2007. To sell 100 more homes, despite the economic downturn shortly after the 400th home was sold, is a significant accomplishment for the program, Denny said.
“Between 2007 and 2016, I would like to say it’s been very successful to have assisted 100 first-time homebuyers…considering the housing market and the economy and the freeze on lending from the banks,” Denny said. “It has been a difficult time for first-time homebuyers.”
Denny said he would encourage people to participate in the program because it offers homebuyers reliable financial and educational assistance.
“They really get a lot of help through the program,” Denny said. “It’s something I wish I would have been able to take advantage of the first time I bought a house.”
Lewis said the program helps first-time homebuyers realize the pride of homeownership.
“You’re working toward something so you can build equity for yourself and your family,” Lewis said. “I encourage people to definitely get more information on it.”
The county will celebrate the 500th home during a ribbon cutting and open house with the Lewis family at 10 a.m. July 27. The house is located at 4370 Ironbound Road. There will be tours of the home and light refreshments will be served.
Click here to learn more about the program and download an application.