One of the most common mantras about home ownership is that it probably will be the single largest investment in your life. It's a cliché because, for most, it's true. Oftentimes it has marked a rite of passage into "finally becoming a grown-up" when making that purchase. Yet, the idea of home ownership, the bedrock of the American Dream, is fraying. Unfortunately for many, the American Dream is becoming more challenging to attain. It is especially hard for those just starting out on their own due to the challenges of saving up for the required down payment.
Indeed, that down payment is the barrier that keeps so many hardworking Americans from buying a home. After basic living expenses, you try to save over time. But during that savings period, home prices continue to rise, and playing catch-up on the down payment seems almost impossible.
I believe that providing a boost to future responsible homeowners works to benefit our economic stability and adds to the generational wealth that everyone should have. It also adds to personal pride. And it adds strength to local communities and our country.
There should be room for us as a society to help hardworking Americans join the ranks of home ownership. For that reason, I have introduced several bills that will help some live the American dream.
The legislation I have introduced include:
Senate Bill No. 242. "New Jersey American Dream Act." It appropriates $25 million to provide down payment and home repair assistance to certain low- and moderate-income, first-time home buyers to defray the costs of acquiring and rehabilitating single-family housing for a principal residence. Under the grant program, the maximum grant awarded to each first-time home buyer would not exceed six percent of the home's purchase price or $10,000, whichever is greater. In addition, each first-time home buyer who receives financial assistance through the grant program before the award of financial assistance must complete not less than eight hours of a home buyer counseling course.
Senate Bill No. 1762. This bill establishes the New Jersey First-Time Home Buyer Savings Account Program, allowing individuals to receive income tax benefits applicable to their tax liability. Under the bill, a taxpayer who is a certified first-time home buyer receives a credit against the gross income tax in an amount equal to 5 percent of up to $15,000 of contributions (or up to $7,500 of contributions if married filing separately) that are made during the taxable year to one first-time home buyer savings account.
Senate Bill No. 3080. In the form of closing credits of 1 percent of the home purchasing price, my bill would provide financial support to first-time home buyers after completing an approved counseling course through the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency.
Readers should note that all of my bills focus on personal responsibility as a prerequisite to enrolling in these programs.
A word to those who are homeowners. Remember the urgency that you felt about making that first-time purchase? Remember how it suddenly fostered a sense of security, well-being and community commitment?
We frequently hear people comment about the "American Dream." As do other legislators who support my bills, I believe that it allows more hardworking citizens to share in that great American Dream. When you support these bills, you support your fellow Americans.
That's my take, what's yours?