“First-Generation Homebuyers Down Payment Assistance Fund” Pilot Program Signed Into Law

By MNR News posted 05-17-2023 11:17 AM

MINNEAPOLIS (May 17, 2023) During the week of May 8, the Minnesota House and Senate passed the “First-Generation Homebuyers Down Payment Assistance Fund” program, which was included in the final version of the omnibus housing finance bill (HF 2335). On Monday, May 15, Governor Walz signed HF 2335 into law.

This pilot program was brought forward by a diverse coalition of groups led by Minnesota Realtors® (MNR), the Minnesota Homeownership Center (the Center), and Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity.

“The passage of this pilot program is an accomplishment years in the making,” said Emily Green, 2023 president of MNR. “Recognizing the need to close our state’s racial homeownership gap—the fifth largest disparity in the nation—MNR and the Center began collaborating to explore solutions back in 2020.”

MNR and the Center commissioned a study that revealed lack of sufficient capital for a down payment was a key barrier to homeownership. Realizing the scope of the problem, MNR and the Center sought other partners, and enlisted Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. From there, more groups joined the fold and soon a coalition was advocating for passage of the “First-Generation Homebuyers Down Payment Assistance Fund” at the Capitol.

The $150 million appropriated in the omnibus housing finance bill for down payment assistance for first-generation homebuyers, and specifically the $100 million in this for the coalition’s proposed pilot program (to be administered by Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation in partnership with CDFIs, nonprofits, and Tribal entities around the state), will open the door to homeownership for thousands of first-generation buyers —particularly those in communities of color. “It will help advance the goal of closing the racial homeownership gap in Minnesota and getting more first-generation homebuyers over the down payment barrier and into homeownership,” Julie Gugin, president of the Center, said.
We want to acknowledge and thank the authors of the pilot program bill, Rep. Esther Agbaje and Sen. Clare Oumou Verbeten, the House and Senate Housing Committee Chairs, Rep. Michael Howard and Sen. Lindsey Port, for including the pilot program in the omnibus housing finance bill, and the diverse coalition of non-profits, local units of government, businesses, and business trade associations that supported this effort over the past two legislative sessions,” said Cathy Lawrence, chief of staff for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. 

Full list of supporting organizations:
  • Builders Association of Minnesota
  • Bell Bank Mortgage
  • Center for Economic Inclusion
  • City of Bloomington Minnesota
  • City of Golden Valley Minnesota
  • City of Lakes Community Land Trust
  • Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota
  • Homeownership Minnesota
  • Housing First Minnesota
  • Local Initiatives Support Corporation
  • Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation
  • Minneapolis Area Realtors®
  • MinnCap
  • City of Minneapolis Minnesota
  • Minnesota Credit Union Network
  • Minnesota Bankers Association
  • Minnesota Business Coalition for Racial Equity
  • MN CDFI Coalition
  • Minnesota Homeownership Center
  • Minnesota Mortgage Association
  • Minnesota Realtors®
  • Minneapolis Regional Chamber
  • National Association of Real Estate Brokers Twin Cities
  • NeighborWorks Home Partners
  • Saint Paul Area Association of Realtors®
  • Summit Mortgage Corporation
  • Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity
  • Urban Homeworks
  • Wells Fargo