My Turn: George Bailey would love Phoenix's housing market

December 23, 2016
Arizona Republic
Juan Salgado

My Turn: The iconic holiday-movie characted would love Phoenix's real-estate market and programs to help boost homeownership.



When you think of Bedford Falls and George Bailey, what comes to mind?

I am referring to the setting and main character of the classic holiday movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” When I watch the film each December, George’s passion for helping working folks and immigrant families become homeowners inspires me. He is an iconic advocate for building the foundation of the American Dream: homeownership.

If George lived here, he would be thrilled to learn of Phoenix’s latest recognition as the No. 1 housing market in the country, according to Realtor.com. With this national attention forecasted to continue into 2017, we must work to ensure that the diversity of our community is reflected in our remarkable market rebound.

Following the real-estate crash that began in 2008, my colleagues and I at the Phoenix and Maricopa IDAs sought ways to help the tens of thousands of responsible folks across the Valley recreate stability in their families and their finances, and to revitalize local communities.

First, we acknowledged the major hurdle of homeownership for low- to moderate-income families. That obstacle was not credit scores or capacity to repay (as a house payment is often less than rental costs); rather, it was the cash for down payment and closing costs.

Now, we are four years in to helping low- to moderate-income buyers with a 3 percent grant to cover down payment and closing costs through the Home in Five Advantage program. Started in 2012, the program has won numerous friends, both industry professionals and approximately 13,500 eager, deserving homebuyers who have received $104 million in assistance.

Teachers, U.S. military personnel, veterans, first responders and qualified borrowers earning $31,450 or less annually receive an additional 1 percent grant.

Thanks to thousands of homebuyers, this program is generating a significant economic impact of about $334.9 million across the Valley. The impact is based on fees generated by the loans to support jobs and strengthen the mortgage industry, as well as increases in consumer spending from the reduced housing costs of mortgage payments compared to renting.

Beyond the economic impact, increased homeownership rates bring social benefits for individuals, families and communities. We know from research and our own daily experiences that when residents put down roots in their communities, what follows benefits us all: increased educational attainment, civic involvement, health outcomes and public safety.

By working together in Phoenix to ensure our growth is inclusive, everyone can win.

Just as the Bailey Brothers Building and Loan in the holiday-movie favorite, we are helping local residents build their American dream giving everyone more reasons to celebrate this season and throughout the year.

Juan Salgado, a Phoenix resident, is executive director of the Phoenix IDA, a nonprofit organization supporting community and economic development through access to capital.



PDF of article is available here.

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