Susan's Blog

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Help families finance adult autism housing

Here is a plea for action that came my way via autism advocate Cathy Boyle, who founded a wonderful organization called Autism Housing Pathways. I have edited a little bit for expedience:

****How do autism families figure out the financing for their adult child’s housing?****

While there are a number of programs aimed at providing financing for lower-income and first-time home buyers, families creating housing are largely treated — unfairly — as purchasers of vacation homes.

However, there is one mortgage product aimed at these families: Fannie Mae’s Community HomeChoice, a variant of Fannie Mae’s MyCommunity Mortgage. HomeChoice permits family members to be considered “non-occupying co-borrowers.” This means their income can help, in that the family’s income can be considered in determining the ability of borrowers to repay, while still allowing the individuals with disabilities to be considered low income, and thus qualify for the program.

Here is the important part: Community HomeChoice allows individuals with disabilities to put 3% down, and only $500 of it has to be their own money; the rest can be from family members!!!

Unfortunately, currently in Massachusetts there do not appear to be any mortgage lenders offering HomeChoice. Fannie Mae does not have the ability to identify lenders offering specific products. Most (if not all) Massachusetts participants in MyCommunity do not engage in manual underwriting, which is necessary to use the HomeChoice option.

Cathy Boyle, who sent me this notice, has been in discussions with officials at MassHousing regarding the possibility of MassHousing working with a small group of lending institutions (probably 6 or 7) scattered around the state, to offer HomeChoice. There is some openness to the idea. She has been told that it would be helpful to get as many public comments as possible on MassHousing’s draft strategic plan asking for this option.

MassHousing is accepting public comments until the close of business on November 8th. You can comment here, using the talking points listed below.

* Individuals with disabilities and their families need a mortgage product that has a 3% down payment and that recognizes the need for family members to help financially

* Fannie Mae’s Community HomeChoice is such a product

* Community HomeChoice does not appear to be offered by any lender in the state

* MassHousing should work with a small group of lenders to make Community HomeChoice available throughout the state

* Such an initiative would fit into MassHousing’s proposed objectives of expanding housing options for special populations and expanding home ownership opportunities for underserved populations

Nowadays some owners prefer to rent the property, rather than sell it. As a rental owner, go to to find professionals who will do their best to insure your property is taken care of and the tenants living there are trustworthy.

If you would, please cc Cathy Boyle at on your comments, so she can have a running total of who has commented.

Thanks very much,

Cathy Boyle
Autism Housing Pathways

And me, Susan Senator

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