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$60,000 MORE ALLOTTED FOR FIRST-TIME HOME BUYERS

Cheektowaga has set aside another $60,000 of federal money to satisfy the unexpected public interest in the town's first-time home-buyers program.

Cheektowaga, hoping to expand home-ownership opportunities for low-to-moderate income families, last June started the first-time home buyers program using U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant money.

The new town program offers first-time home buyers modest financial help -- $5,000 no-interest loans based on household income guidelines from HUD.

A family of four, for example, is eligible if annual household income doesn't exceed $34,100.

The program has generated more interest than originally anticipated and Cheektowaga officials recently agreed to reallocate some federal money into the home-buyers program, said Jerome J. Gabryszak, the town's community development director.

"We've had a lot of calls on this program and there seems to be a great deal of interest," said Gabryszak, adding that right now the program has a waiting list.

"I think a lot of people are looking for homes and it seems to be a good time to buy," he added.

Since the Cheektowaga program began, $71,603 in loans have been given to 15 families to purchase homes throughout the town, including East Delavan Avenue, Walden Avenue and in the Cleveland Hill and Town Park areas, Gabryszak said.

Nine of the families are from Cheektowaga, three from Buffalo and three from West Seneca.

Three other families involved in the program are waiting to close on homes, while another three have been approved for program loans, officials said.

The additional funds should help another dozen families obtain no-interest loans.

The loan, however, is applicable to closing costs only. The homes also must be in good shape for people to receive a loan, Gabryszak added.

The money funding the Cheektowaga program is provided through HUD's HOME Investment Partnership Program.

Amherst is lead agency for the HOME consortium made up of Amherst, Cheektowaga and the Town of Tonawanda. The three towns each year share the HUD money, most of which goes toward no-interest housing rehabilitation loans.

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