Home Ownership is an achievable dream for many refugees. Some may obtain home ownership in as little as one to two years. For others, the road is longer. For everyone, however, actions taken during the first year after arrival can significantly shorten the road to home ownership. Mercy Housing and the Institute for Social and Economic Development have co-authored a paper titled: Making the American Dream of Home Ownership A Reality for Your IDA Participants. This paper includes a refugee success story, mortgage lending programs, home ownership assistance programs, the mortgage qualification process and how to establish collaborations with other agencies to achieve home ownership. Although this paper was written specifically for refugees participating in IDA programs, the basic information will be useful for all first-time homebuyers.
Recently, there have been some very exciting developments to help Muslims purchase homes. Islamic financing principles under Sharia’a law have had the effect of restricting home purchase. However, a new Islamic financing initiative by Freddie Mac, undertaken in conjunction with three Muslim financing institutions, has helped solve this problem. The Institute for Social and Economic Development has written a good explanation of this issue.
Another resource on the topic of Islamic mortgages is American House Finance/Lariba.
Home ownership is often less costly on a monthly basis to purchase a home than it is to rent. Frequently, refugee families with multiple wage earners have sufficient income to purchase a home of their own. With increasing availability of down payment assistance and alternative lending programs, another barrier to home ownership is removed. Finally, if a refugee family is judicious about establishing and using credit and has a good history of paying monthly bills, a final barrier to home ownership can be overcome.
Don’t overlook this opportunity to build wealth and improve the quality of the housing for refugees!