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Jackson offering $25k to qualifying buyers through new home program

A city spokesperson says the 100 Homes project has completed its first build, and construction is either started or planned on 16 more.
Courtesy, city of Jackson
City of Jackson Facebook page (with permission)
A city spokesperson says the 100 Homes project has completed its first build, and construction is either started or planned on 16 more.

First new house up; 99 more to go.

The city of Jackson in southern Michigan announced a plan last October to build 100 new homes in the city and offer $25,000 in down payment assistance to qualifying buyers. Since then, a city spokesperson said, more than 600 people have applied.

The down payment assistance converts to a grant if buyers stay in the new homes for five years. All new builds for the “100 Homes” program are price capped at $175,000.

City spokesperson Aaron Dimmick says the first new build in the 100 Homes program is completed, construction has started on seven homes, and construction is planned on nine more.

“We’re a lot like a lot of other mid-sized cities across Michigan, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t have unique solutions to those problems,” Dimmick said. “Just driving around town, you can see houses going up all over the place.”

The program is funded with $2.5 million of the city’s allocations from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021. It’s meant to both increase affordable housing options, and create opportunities for generational wealth through homeownership. Jackson officials aim to have agreements to build all 100 new homes in place by the end of 2026 — when ARPA funding expires.

Dimmick said Jackson said 45% of Jackson residents rent. The 100 Homes program is targeted at low and medium income people. To qualify, total buyer household income cannot exceed 120% of area median income in Jackson county ($101,150 for a family of four). Anyone from anywhere can apply, not just city residents.

The city also encourages buyers participating in the program to apply for an additional $10,000 in down-payment assistance through the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, which also has maximum household income restrictions.

City of Jackson

Interested potential buyers first apply on the city’s website, submit paperwork, take a class, seek mortgage approval, then work with the city and builders to select a lot and floorplan, and begin construction.

In addition to the federal funding boost, the city already had the land available to make the project feasible. The city owned roughly 600 vacant lots that it says are ready for redevelopment — the product of years of federally funded blight removal operations from 2012-2017.

We have the land available, which is sold really at an inexpensive rate to put a house on top of,” Dimmick said. “The city also offers different incentives, like curb cuts for a driveway, putting in a sidewalk, water and sewer connections at a discounted rate.”

With the 100 Homes program, the city coordinates the deals between buyers and participating developers. The program is part of Jackson’s Affordable Housing Development Board’s strategy of expanding affordable housing options in the city by seeking to build 1,500 new housing units over the next ten years.

Once a buyer has been approved for financing with a mortgage lender of their choice, and receives the down-payment assistance from the city, there are three floor plans to choose from. The 2-3 bedroom, 1.5 bath homes range from 960 to 1,232 square feet in size. The city coordinates site selection and offers some services, like curb-cutting for the installation of new driveways.

Other than the Jackson 100 Homes developments, Dimmick said the city has received also 16 permit requests for new home builds at other sites in the city limits.

"That's a really big number," Dimmick said. "I think before we even started this project it'd be remarkable even if we saw one new house built in the city every year. So this is really leading to a really big construction boom.”

Tyler Scott is the weekend afternoon host at Michigan Public, though you can often hear him filling in at other times during the week. Tyler started in radio at age 18, as a board operator at WMLM 1520AM in Alma, Michigan, where he later became host of The Morning Show.