Increased homebuyer assistance and veteran opportunities on the horizon in Fort Worth
Since 1997, the city of Fort Worth has helped low- and moderate-income residents become first-time homeowners through its Homebuyer Assistance Program. Eligible residents can get deferred forgivable loans of up to $20,000 to reduce downpayment and closing costs when buying a home.
Now, that program is likely to expand. In a work session Dec. 5, city staff presented plans to bump the maximum loan amount up to $25,000 per household. The idea was first raised at an October committee meeting and will go before the full City Council for approval Dec. 12.
In the past five years, the city has helped 243 homebuyers through the program, which is funded through federal dollars. In an informal report, staff cite the hot real estate market, high sales prices and population growth as reasons why the loan amount needs to be increased. About a quarter of Fort Worth homeowners spend more than 30% of their income on housing costs such as mortgage payments, according to previous reporting.
This isn’t the first time the city has bumped up the loan amount. In 2018, Fort Worth raised the maximum loan amount from $14,999 to $20,000.
The new increase comes as the city explores strategies to encourage housing affordability. In October, City Council members unanimously approved an affordable housing strategy that outlined a toolbox of actions the city can take moving forward.
Increasing veteran business opportunities
Veterans will soon have their own small-business program in the city of Fort Worth, according to an informal report presented to council members.
After City Council members Elizabeth Beck and Charlie Lauersdorf began pushing for greater support for veterans and their businesses in Fort Worth, city staff researched the feasibility of creating a small-business program for veterans. That research found enough existing resources to launch a program in the 2024 fiscal year that would support veteran-owned small businesses and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.
The program would:
- Promote, track and report city contract opportunities for veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.
- Help veterans get certified through the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts and others.
- Increase awareness of capital access and capacity building opportunities for veterans through education, training and outreach efforts.
In order to establish specific goals for veteran-owned businesses in the future, the city should hire a consultant to analyze the number of existing veteran-owned businesses “in the City’s established marketplace,” according to the informal report.
In addition to announcing its intention to create the new program for veteran-owned businesses, the city also posted a new position, the veteran affairs coordinator. Whoever is hired for that position will “serve as a liaison focusing on Veterans Affairs between the municipality and various government entities, including local, regional, state or federal government, as well as other public and private affiliated groups,” according to the job posting.
Lauersdorf appreciated the work done by city staff to make the program a reality.
“I think we have some really big things on the horizon,” he said.
At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here. Emily Wolf is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter.