These programs aim to increase the affordability of purchasing a home (particularly for those with lower incomes), or enable existing homeowners to remain in their home when those costs become unaffordable.

First-time Homebuyer and Home Purchase Assistance Programs

Overview and Description

Even when a household has enough money for monthly mortgage payments, it can be a significant challenge to assemble the lump sum required to cover the down payment and all closing costs. Assistance is often offered in the form of a grant or forgivable loan. Many programs target specific populations, like first time buyers or buyers within certain income limits and may pair financial assistance with housing counseling or other supports.

Program Lead: Local Government, Non-Profit or Employer

Role for Local Government: These assistance programs can be offered by a public agency, nonprofit, private entity, or a joint partnership (when offered by private companies, this may also be called an "employer-assisted housing program" or EAH). Local governments should ensure that programs complement CHFA's existing homebuyer loan and down payment assistance program. Local governments should also work with partners or other programs serving renters to create pathways from rentership to homeownership. ​

Opportunity and Examples from Colorado

metroDPA in Denver provides households with home loans and down payment assistance to help buy homes. An income of up to $176,700 a year and a credit score above 640 makes households eligible for this support.

HomesFund, which serves southwest Colorado, provides homebuyer education classes, free home ownership “advisor” services and provides mortgage assistance and down payments. HomesFund offers shared appreciation loans, building wealth loans for those without 20% down payments, loans for unit purchases in mobile home parks, and mortgages for mobile homes on fee simple land.

Boulder County provides down payment assistance and aids with closing costs for homes that are purchased outside of the city of Boulder. Households can receive up to 10% of the purchase price and cannot exceed an amount of 40,000. There is a list of homebuyer requirements and property requirements, but important to note is that this assistance is for first-time buyers.

The City of Aurora has a Home Ownership Assistance Program that provides up to $10,000 for first-time homebuyers who meet eligibility requirements. This assistance is available only to households who have completed homebuyer education classes in addition to other requirements.

Pueblo County offers down payment assistance for first-time homebuyers that are purchasing a home within the city or county limits. The property must be used for residential housing. Pueblo County outlines additional eligibility requirements on their website.

Guides and Resources

Creative Mortgage Products and Programs

Overview and Description

In cases where traditional mortgage products are not workable or affordable for some homebuyers, creative mortgage products and programs can expand homeownership opportunities. These can take a variety of forms, but generally either allow alternative mortgage terms (e.g, offering below-market interest rates), or utilize a shared equity model to bring down costs. A shared appreciation mortgage, for example, is a mortgage where the lender is paid back (in total or in part) by a share of the increase in value of the property. Often, this allows prospective homebuyers to purchase homes that might otherwise be out of reach, while still building equity. These mortgages are typically offered as part of a government-sponsored homeownership program and often as a deferred loan, where repayment is not due until sale of the home or a mortgage refinancing. While this model does not preserve the affordability of the home for the next purchaser, it does generate returns when the mortgage is repaid that can be used to offer a new shared appreciation mortgage to another homeowner in the future.

Program Lead: Local Government, Nonprofit or Financial Institution (e.g. CDFI)

Role of Local Government: Local governments can identify needs and gaps in existing mortgage products, engage specific populations and lenders to determine what types of products will be workable, and work with lenders or nonprofits to inform the development of alternative products. Local governments can also develop these products themselves if they choose.

Opportunity and Examples from Colorado

The Douglas County Housing Partnership has a Shared Equity Program that provides eligible homebuyers with a loan to purchase a home. This loan is repaid to the Housing Partnership when the house is sold.

The City of Boulder offers a shared appreciation loan that can support a primary loan. This shared appreciation loan helps homebuyers afford the purchase of their home and does not require repayment until 15 years after the distribution of the loan. Full payment plus an additional percentage will be returned to the City.

HomesFund, which serves southwest Colorado, provides homebuyer education classes, free home ownership “advisor” services and provides mortgage assistance and down payments. HomesFund offers shared appreciation loans, building wealth loans for those without 20% down payments, loans for unit purchases in mobile home parks, and mortgages for mobile homes on fee simple land.

Property Tax Relief

Overview and Description

Increasing property taxes decreases housing affordability and can accelerate risk of foreclosure and displacement among homeowners, particularly those with low or fixed incomes. Property tax relief can take a variety of forms, including rebate checks sent directly to homeowners. These programs can target specific populations such as lower-income households or seniors. Property tax relief may also include support for homeowners that have already fallen behind on their taxes, including debt forgiveness, counseling, and/or financial assistance. This kind of relief can also support property owners that rent to low-income tenants. In Colorado, property tax relief exists for qualified seniors and individuals with disability.

Program Lead: State or Local Government

Role for Local Government: Property tax exemption programs often require state authorization and implementation; however, local jurisdictions should advocate for eligibility criteria and amount of tax relief.

Opportunity and Examples from Colorado

Denver has a Property Tax Relief Program that returns some of the collected property taxes to households that meet certain requirements. Eligibility includes senior status, disabled status, and homeowners who have dependent children living in the home.

Colorado’s Property Tax/Rent/Heat Credit is available for full-time residents that qualify under age and disability eligibility.


Foreclosure Mitigation and Counseling

Overview and Description

Foreclosure prevention programs can be organized by local elected officials and offered to constituents who are experiencing or are at risk of foreclosure. These programs help to educate on best financial practices, provide funding for emergencies (including determining eligibility for state or other funding) or households in immediate crisis, offer legal assistance if necessary, and other forms of support to reduce future cases of foreclosure.

Program Lead: Local Government or Non-Profit

Role for Local Government: Local governments can bring many resources to the table for this type of program, including funding (administration of state or federal resources), support for counseling, partnership with organizations offering housing counseling, and program referrals or connections for those facing foreclosure.

Opportunity and Examples from Colorado

The Denver Department of Housing Stability provides a variety of services to maintain housing stability and reduce harmful experiences related to housing instability for Denver residents. The services provided include rent and utility assistance, tenant rights, eviction assistance and foreclosure assistance.

The Rocky Mountain Community Land Trust has funds from Colorado’s Homeowner Assistance Fund and the Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program to offer to residents who are experiencing or at risk of foreclosure for a variety of reasons.

For more information on housing counseling to prevent foreclosure, see Housing Counseling and Navigation in this document.

Housing Counseling and Navigation

Overview and Description

Housing counseling programs typically combine education on housing-related issues with one-on-one counseling to improve housing outcomes. These programs can serve multiple purposes, depending on their design and intended beneficiaries.

For renters, housing counseling programs can assist with financial education and credit counseling, finding and applying for units, providing information about neighborhoods to help recipients evaluate options, and helping the renter understand their eligibility for housing assistance programs and how to obtain them. In cases where a renter is facing eviction or having a dispute with their landlord, counseling programs can help them understand their legal rights, implications of the situation, and connect them to legal support if necessary. (see housing security programs above).

For existing and prospective homeowners, housing counseling programs can provide pre-purchase education (i.e. things to know before becoming a homeowner), post-purchase education (i.e. helping current homeowners maintain their home - refinancing options, physical maintenance and upkeep, etc.), or a combination of the two. Some home purchase assistance programs require applicants to complete this type of training/course to be eligible. Local officials can partner with credited housing counselors to provide residents with these services.

Program Lead: Credited Housing Counselors and Service Providers

Role for Local Government: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has funds available for HUD certified housing counselors, however, these funds do not always cover the full costs of housing counseling. Therefore, local elected officials can supplement HUD funding for housing counseling programs to ensure counseling assistance is available for constituents. Additionally, local elected officials can create housing counseling programs and partner with certified housing counseling providers to ensure their constituents are able to access regionally specific and verified information regarding their housing market.

Opportunity and Examples from Colorado

Colorado Department of Local Affairs Division of Housing provides the Housing Counseling Assistance Program through the organization Brothers Redevelopment. The service can help with rent and mortgage assistance or aid with other housing-related concerns.

Housing Resources offers housing counseling and education programs and is a HUD approved housing counseling agency. Services are offered to residents of Western Colorado and focus on a variety of programs including financial counseling, homebuyer education, pre-purchase counseling, post-purchase counseling, rental counseling and foreclosure prevention.

Colorado Housing Counseling Coalition (CHCC) promotes affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families through housing counseling and the sharing of knowledge, resources and counseling techniques among members. CHCC member agencies help people improve their housing conditions and meet the responsibilities of homeownership and tenancy.

Among the many services the member agencies provide are: pre-purchase counseling, foreclosure prevention counseling, housing consumer education, debt management, and reverse equity mortgage counseling. Colorado Housing Search is jointly sponsored by the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) and DOH as a public service to the residents of Colorado. The site was developed through the collaboration of multiple agencies with a common stake in developing, financing, and preserving affordable housing throughout Colorado. Its goals are to:

  • Help Coloradans find and maintain quality, safe and decent places to live.
  • Provide a clearinghouse for affordable housing and related services.
  • Facilitate operating efficiencies in the affordable housing market.

Homeowner Rehabilitation Assistance

Overview and Description

Homeowner Rehabilitation programs are designed to help low-income or other priority populations fix unsafe conditions in their homes. Such programs can cover a wide variety of repairs or be tailored to specific needs (aging in place or accessibility modifications, energy efficiency upgrades, lead paint abatement, etc.) or certain levels of rehabilitation (e.g., facade improvements, minor repairs, moderate rehabilitation). Emergency repair programs can support residents with problems that pose an immediate threat (broken furnace or water heater, potentially hazardous plumbing and electrical systems). Funding usually takes the form of grants, subsidized loans or in-kind services.

Program Lead: Local Government or Non-Profit

Role for Local Government: Local governments can implement these programs directly or fund a third- party non-profit. Jurisdictions can establish housing rehabilitation codes to streamline the rehab process.

Opportunity and Examples from Colorado

The South Central Council of Governments provides low-interest owner occupied loans to repair existing systems or structural components including electrical, plumbing, heating, foundation and roofing in homes in Huerfano and Las Animas Counties.

The Commerce City Housing Authority offers low-interest loans to homeowners rehabilitating properties. Maximum loans are $10,000 and can be used to a number of projects listed on the City website. Commerce City also has Home Repair Programs that are funded through the City’s CDBG program.

Housing Resources offers a Housing Rehabilitation loan program to homeowners in Mesa, Garfield and Rio Blanco to improve the safety of their homes and improve sustainability. The Critical Home Repair program at Housing Resources is a program offered to residents of the City of Grand Junction to repair minor plumbing and swamp coolers. Housing Resources is an example of an organization that local elected officials can partner with or provide funding for the services offered to Colorado Residents.

The City of Boulder is partnering with the City of Longmont to provide a Housing Rehabilitation Program. Income limits apply and the rehabilitation can address the following areas: general repair, accessibility, mobile home repair, and emergency repair.

The City of Aurora partners with Brothers Redevelopment to provide a Minor Home Repair Program and a Paint-a-Thon Program to address rehabilitation for Aurora residents. The City also offers an Emergency Repair Program and a Home Repair Loan Program. Income qualifications and eligibility requirements exist for these programs.