Why Houwzer Launched This Nonprofit Fund for Low-Income, First-Time Homebuyers

Tech-enabled real estate brokerage Houwzer this week launched the RiseUp Fund, a nonprofit to bring grants and resources to low- to moderate-income first-time homebuyers.

The Center City company’s new program comes amid a still-hot housing market and the recent re-up of the Philadelphia Housing Development Corp.’s own $10,000 grant program for first-time homebuyers, Philly First Home.

The fund, which receives $100 from every Houwzer transaction, launched first in Philly, with plans to expand to Houwzer’s other markets, DC and Baltimore next year, and Florida in 2023. Recipients of RiseUp funds get $5,000 in grants for down payments or closing costs, and go through first-time buyer educational courses.

Those eligible are considered ALICE (asset limited, income constrained and employed), per United Way. These individuals and households are those least likely to grow generational wealth, a process the RiseUp fund is aiming to change. In Philadelphia, the median income for a family in these circumstances is between $31,000 and $84,000. These folks must have saved at least $3,000 but no more than $10,000 and have a minimum credit score of 620 to be eligible for the grant.

“As we continue to navigate one of the most difficult housing climates in history, Houwzer remains committed to leveling the playing field and assuring everyone has the opportunity to achieve the American dream of homeownership,” Mike Maher, Houwzer CEO said in a statement.

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