How can I apply for assistance?

Applications for the Winnebago Homebuyer Program are AVAILABLE ONLINE FOR DOWNLOAD, can be emailed (email justinm@ohawcha.org), mailed (call 920.424.1450), or picked up in person at the following locations: Oshkosh Housing Authority, 600 Merritt Avenue, Oshkosh; FISC, 1800 Appleton Road, Menasha; Habitat for Humanity Fox Cities, 921 Midway Road, Menasha; and Habitat for Humanity Oshkosh, 1640 S Koeller, Oshkosh.

What areas does your program serve?

Services of the Winnebago County Housing Authority and Winnebago Homebuyer Program are restricted to Winnebago County, and include Oshkosh, Neenah, Menasha, Omro, Winneconne, and rural areas. Partner agencies such as Habitat for Humanity Fox Cities service communities outside of our county.

What are the income limits to qualify for assistance?

Income limits vary by program, with the majority restricting household gross income to 80% of county median income (CMI). The city of Oshkosh neighborhood investment assistance can go up to 125% of CMI, while Habitat for Humanity programs are limited to 60% CMI. CMI numbers are adjusted annually.

How is my income counted for purposes of eligibility?

All household income is counted pre-tax, with the program working to determine what you can be expected to earn the next 12 months. Certain exemptions exist, including excluding earned income of minors and adult dependent full time students. Income includes wages, benefits, investment income, regular contributions to your household from friends/family, and any other funds benefiting your household. All income will be verified.

Purchasing a Home

Can I purchase a home in your program with no money down?

All home purchases require investment from the homebuyer, with amounts varying by program and property cost. Homes purchased through the Downpayment Assistance Program and through the Affordable Homeownership Sale Program require between $1,500.00 and $3,300.00 in investment funds from the homebuyer. Habitat for Humanity programs typically require $500.00 plus 250-500 hours of “sweat equity” time spent on-site building your home. Homebuyers can always invest more, which may help lower their monthly costs and help achieve a better interest rate.

Do you have homes that I can buy directly from you?

Yes. The Winnebago Homebuyer Program purchases between 2 and 4 homes per year, rehabbing the homes to bring them into compliance with health and safety standards and local code (as applicable). Homes are only sold to qualified households that meet income guidelines and that have completed the Homebuyer Education Program. When selling these homes, the Winnebago Homebuyer Program will work to combine resources from partner programs to provide increased downpayment assistance. These home sales often include a minimum amount of 5-year forgivable grant funds.

I have bad credit. Can I still buy a home with you?

Homebuyers must meet basic lending standards for purchase. Delinquent debts, recent bankruptcy, excessive debt that exceeds 13% of your monthly income, or a credit score below 580 will prevent you from moving forward with a home purchase. However, in cases where the homebuyer is motivated and focused on resolving their debt issues, the program and homebuyer can work together to develop a budget and debt management plan to make home ownership a future possibility.

Do I have to have income to buy a home?

Homebuyers are permitted to spend 28-33% of their gross monthly income on homeownership expenses, which includes mortgage loan principal and interest, taxes, insurance and a minimum $50.00 home maintenance savings. The standard is 30% with allowances determined by program financial counselors. Certain partner programs may have limitations that vary slightly. In all programs, you will need to have sufficient funds to cover these monthly expenses within the permissible percentage limits.

What types of homes qualify for assistance?

Several conditions must be met for a home to qualify, including: it must be affordable for you; it must be valued under $133,000 (subject to change); it must not be located in a flood zone or near an airport; it must be code compliant and meet health and safety standards upon completion of any rehab; it must be located within Winnebago County; the total loan value (including acquisition and rehab mortgages) should be less than 115% of value; and it must comply with program-specific guidelines dependent upon funding utilized.

Can I purchase a duplex to rent out?

No. The Winnebago Homebuyer Program does not fund personal investment properties including properties when you plan to live in one side. While this may be a good investment, it also poses additional risks that the program has decided to avoid. Municipal programs may have funding available to assist with the rehab of rental properties in the form of short term loans. Contact your municipality for more information.

Rehabbing a Home

Can I get funding for both downpayment and rehab?

Yes. A majority of homes that we assist with purchase also require rehab to bring the home into compliance. Both downpayment and rehab assistance is in the form of a 0% deferred loan. Often, to maximize local investment, we partner with the municipality for rehab support.

I currently own my home. Is there rehab support available?

Yes. The Winnebago Homebuyer Program works with local partners to provide home rehab funding for qualified homeowners. Services are available in all locations of Winnebago County. See the REHAB PAGE for more information.

I'd like a new 6-person hot tub. Can you help?

No. The rehab program will not fund extravagance and luxury remodeling. The program only funds needed repairs related to code violations, health and safety concerns, and affordability concerns. Affordability concerns refers to home repair expenses that are likely in the next 3 years, such as a furnace replacement, roofing replacement, or new water heater.

Will you help with Lead hazards?

Yes. Most home rehab assistance programs, including all programs provided by the Winnebago Homebuyer Program, require professional resolution of any lead issues, which may include removal or encapsulation. Lead hazard mitigation may be coordinated by the Winnebago Homebuyer Program or can be coordinated through your municipality if funds are available.

Can I pick and choose which repairs are done?

No. Program funding requirements state that all violations must be remedied. While you may be able to choose certain features, such as roof shingle color, you can not choose to have some work completed while other work is not. As a result, some homes do not qualify for rehab assistance due to the significant extent of work required when paired with a low-equity homeowner.

Can I do the rehab myself?

In many cases, the homeowner may complete rehab activities themselves, with funding support provided for materials. This rehab must be coordinated as part of an entire home rehab agreement signed by all parties prior to any work beginning. Work requiring professional certification, such as electrical work, must be completed by an individual who meets these qualifications.

I am a general contractor. How can I bid on this work?

Most rehab projects require 3 bids from general contractors, with over $1 million dollars spent annually in Winnebago County on home rehab among partners. To bid on work with the Winnebago Homebuyer Program, submit a cover sheet titled Homebuyer General Contractor including name of business, individual contact name, mailing address, phone number, email and fax to the Winnebago Homebuyer Program, fax #920.424.1474, mailing at PO Box 0397, Oshkosh, WI 54903, or in person at 600 Merritt Avenue, Oshkosh. To see if contracting work is available in particular cities, contact the Planning Department of that community and ask about home rehab programming.

Financing Basics

Do I have to repay the financial assistance I receive?

The vast majority of funding provided through the Winnebago Homebuyer Program is provided as a 0% interest loan that requires repayment at such a date as when you sell the home, no longer occupy the home as your primary residence, or transfer possession of the home. There are no monthly payments required. The fees involved in accessing this funding are generally limited to the mortgage recording fee charged by the county register of deeds office ($30, subject to change).

Is there funding support that is forgivable (meaning I don't have to pay it back)?

Yes. Forgivable assistance is available in limited purchase scenarios, and often entails a 5-year commitment to your home, in which the balance is fully forgiven after 5 years. One forgivable assistance program is administered by the city of Oshkosh and targets home ownership in the Middle Village neighborhood. $5,000 of 5-year forgivable assistance is provided at time of purchase as downpayment assistance. See the program details at the the DOWNPAYMENT ASSISTANCE page for more information.

A second avenue for forgivable assistance is through direct home purchase from the Winnebago Homebuyer Program, where homebuyers will receive a $2,000 5-year forgiveable downpayment loan. See more about purchasing directly from the Winnebago Homebuyer Program at the the Homes 4 Sale page.

I am buying a home for $77,000. How will the finances all work?

If purchasing for $77,000, you will likely have additional closing costs of up to $3,000, meaning you'll pay $80,000 for your home. A typical homebuyer may invest $5,000 of their own funds. The Winnebago Homebuyer Program may invest $12,000 in this purchase (0% deferred loan), leaving $63,000 for your primary lender to fund. In cases of modest repair needs, we will attempt to partner with your municipality to cover these expenses, also as a 0% deferred loan. Your monthly cost in this transaction would be approximately $571.00, which includes a budgeted $50 per month savings for maintenance and repairs. Visit the DOWNPAYMENT ASSISTANCE page for more information.

How do I know which lender to utilize?

The Winnebago Homebuyer Program maintains partnerships with local lending institutions who meet certain criteria and who commit support for participants in our programming. Upon meeting program eligibility criteria, the Winnebago Homebuyer Program will provide you with a lender referral. The program is designed to have financing options available to you that entail minimal closing costs, a competitive interest rate, and a connect you to lending staff that are knowledgeable about how the program works. Homebuyers are discouraged from pursuing their own home lender.

I am a lender. How can I become a member of the lending consortium?