Yale University's Unique Employee Homebuyer Program Encourages Purchase of 280 New Haven Homes Valued at $28 M

Yale University is extending its successful Employee Homebuyer Program for two more years and expanding into two additional New Haven neighborhoods, President Richard C. Levin announced today. Since 1994, the unique program has given assistance to 280 Yale faculty and staff members who have purchased New Haven homes valued at more than $28 million.

Yale’s program has been replicated by other universities and is a key element in the University’s programs to further improve its relationship with its host city. The program has received praise from city officials and neighborhood groups.

As in the first two phases of the program, each participant in Phase III will receive $2,000 per year for 10 years, so long as he or she remains a Yale employee and continues to reside in the home. An additional closing bonus – a benefit added during Phase II to help homeowners pay for renovations and closing costs – is being increased from $4,000 to $5,000, bringing the total benefit to $25,000 over 10 years.

“Continuation of the Homebuyer Program for another two years reflects Yale’s commitment to helping our employees take advantage of the quality of life in the city and become even more active contributors to the community. Response to our program has been enthusiastic, which is a key reason we are continuing and expanding the program,” said President Levin, who estimates that Phase III will bring the University’s total financial commitment to home buyers to $7 million.

Features that make Yale’s program unique among home-buyer programs nationwide are:

* All employees who qualify for Yale benefits are eligible. The broad-based employee participation has included 41 percent from the clerical and technical staff, 26 percent from faculty, 19 percent from management and professional staff, and 14 percent from service and maintenance employees.

* Unlike mortgage assistance programs, which give higher benefits to those with higher mortgages, Yale’s program offers proportionally more benefits at lower purchase prices.

* Yale imposes no caps on the number of participants, their income or the purchase price of homes.

“We’re especially pleased that so many first-time home buyers are taking advantage of this benefit – 95 percent of the participants in Phase II,” said Yale Vice President and Secretary Linda Koch Lorimer, who oversees the Homebuyer Program. Yale encouraged first-time buyers by offering workshops, seminars and housing fairs. Prospective buyers also learned how to combine Yale’s incentive program with others sponsored by the city, the state and local banks.

Thus far, participants have purchased 175 single-family homes, 55 condominiums, 46 two- and three-family homes, and four co-ops. Most of the homes ranged in price from $50,000 to $150,000, with 60 percent selling for under $100,000.

Carmen Morena, a first-time home buyer who is among the 59 percent of program participants who are women, said, “Without the Homebuyer Program, I probably could not have purchased my home. I enjoy my house and my neighbors, and I am happy I could continue to live in New Haven.”

While all New Haven homes qualified for the program during its first two years, Yale focused during Phase II on those areas of the city that would benefit the most from an increase in stable home ownership – a crescent of neighborhoods roughly from the Yale campus on the east to Ella Grasso Boulevard on the west. Phase III added the East Rock and Wooster Square neighborhoods, where housing vacancies remain above average.

Yale’s Employee Homebuyer Program is part of the New Haven Initiative, announced by President Levin in 1994, which has broadened Yale’s partnerships with the city in the areas of economic development, neighborhood revitalization, education and human development. Other programs sponsored by the initiative include:

* Career High School’s academic partnership with Yale’s Schools of Medicine and Nursing, which was formalized earlier this year. The partnership will expand when the high school moves to a new facility adjacent to the Yale campus.

* Ninth Square, a $108-million retail and residential project in downtown New Haven in which Yale invested $12.5 million and increased its commitment last summer.

* The new Broadway shopping district, in which Yale has invested $4 million while recruiting several new stores, including a new Barnes & Noble partnership for The Yale Bookstore. Yale worked with the City of New Haven to secure federal and state funding to revitalize the area.

* The Greater Dwight Development Corp., one of many projects Yale sponsors under a $2.4 million HUD grant to benefit the Dwight, Edgewood and West River neighborhoods.

* Shubert Performing Arts Center, which received several major contributions last year to place it on solid financial footing, including $500,000 from Yale.

For more information about the New Haven Initiative, contact the Yale Office of New Haven Affairs, 203/432-8613.

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