(AUGUSTA) – Chester Wheeler, director of the Augusta Housing and Community Development
Department announced February 17 a new financial incentive program for potential homeowners in
Laney Walker/Bethlehem. For a limited time, qualified home.buyers can receive up to $40,000 to assist
with down payment, closing costs, and gap financing.”

“There are a number of fairly sophisticated pieces to this program,” Wheeler noted. “But the program
boils down to this: For a limited time only, if you qualify, the City will assist you with the gap financing
necessary to close on a home in Laney Walker/Bethlehem.

Wheeler was quick to point out some of the nuances of this financing program: You have to be
sufficiently creditworthy to qualify for a loan of at least 80% on the house; you have to be able to write
a check for $1,000 at closing; and you have to move fairly quickly, because this financial assistance
program is not going to last indefinitely. “It’s that old adage of the ‘early bird gets the worm,’” noted
Wheeler, “only in this case, the worm is a great financing incentive .”

“When we brainstormed about putting this program together,” noted Hawthorne Welcher, Assistant
Director for the AHCDD, “we knew we had to address some of the financial obstacles that might slow
down the revitalization of Laney Walker/Bethlehem. First, the residential market nationwide is slack right
now. Secondly, while we are convinced that there will be a phenomenal renaissance in Laney Walker
Bethlehem in the coming years, we needed to do something that would prime the pump and accelerate
that renaissance. Finally, in order to attract top-notch developers to build in Laney Walker/Bethlehem, we
needed to communicate a message that ‘if they built it, people would come.’

The revitalization of Laney Walker/Bethlehem got its start in 2008, when the Augusta Commission
passed legislation to support strategies promoting an African-American Heritage program in Augusta.
Funds are currently being used for land banking, acquisition, planning and improvements for Laney
Walker/Bethlehem. Since passage of the resolution, the Augusta Housing & Community Development
Department has been actively developing an overall masterplan for the area, a pattern book to guide
development, a roster of pre-qualified vendors (developers, builders, architects, engineers) selected to
focus on early-phase catalytic construction, and the creation of a marketing plan to promote the overall
effort. The development of a financial incentive program rounds out a broad set of resources devoted to
the revitalization effort.

Contact: Chester A. Wheeler III, Director, Augusta Housing and Community Development Department,
706.821.1797 or cwheeler@augustaga.gov.

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