Thursday, September 15, 2011

OPWDD and CDTA Renew Partnership to Aid Local Homeowners with Disabilities

Program provides 24 months of free bus service to Capital Region residents

ALBANY, NY – Continuing their commitment to help individuals with disabilities live independently, the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) and the Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) have announced 24 months of free unlimited bus passes to Capitol Region residents with disabilities who purchase a home through OPWDD’s Home of Your Own Program (HOYO).

The program is also open to income-qualified parents or legal guardians of people with developmental disabilities or mental illness, and to direct support professionals who provide care.

OPWDD Commissioner Courtney Burke said, “We are committed to giving individuals with disabilities the support and resources they want and need to be successful in their day-to-day lives. Owning a home is not for everyone, but for those who make that decision, having ready access to reliable public transportation opens up new opportunities. I thank CDTA for their partnership and commitment to help people with disabilities to fulfill their dreams of owning a home.”

CDTA Chairwoman Denise Figueroa said, “ ‘Our ‘Homeowner’s Transit Use Incentive Program’ helps individuals with disabilities to maintain their independence by offering easy and reliable access to employment, shopping centers and health institutions to conduct their daily routines and improve their quality of life. To help transition people to public transportation, our Travel Trainers are available through appointment to teach new customers how to ride the bus and plan a trip itinerary.”

CDTA has issued passes to about 100 homebuyers through “Transit Use Incentive Program” partnerships, since the programs began in 2005, and has distributed almost 5,000 passes to new homeowners 64 percent of whom say they will continue to ride CDTA after the free pass program expired.

The agreement, dubbed the “Homeowner’s Transit Use Incentive Program,” will provide free, unlimited access CDTA transit passes, as well as travel training assistance. CDTA “Travel trainers” assist people or groups to learn how to take a bus – specifically, helping them to plan their trip, reading and understanding route maps and schedules, getting on and off a bus properly, paying fares and purchasing passes, transferring to other buses, riding specific routes, and traveling independently and comfortably when riding a bus.

Through the State of New York Mortgage Agency (SONYMA)/Housing Finance Agency (HFA), first-time homebuyers with developmental disabilities or mental illnesses and their income-eligible parents or legal guardians can get a 30- or 40-year fixed rate mortgage at a low 4 percent interest rate, with100 percent LTV financing and down payment and/or closing cost assistance.

Participants must be 18 years of age or older, be a first- time homebuyer, have an income and be credit worthy. OPWDD and the state Office of Mental Health (OMH) are the only agencies determining eligibility for participation in the HOYO program. All eligible borrowers are referred to M&T Bank, which oversees a mortgage product specifically designed to meet the needs of these target populations.

hrough a HOME grant from the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), OPWDD assists first-time homebuyers with developmental disabilities or mental illness and their income-eligible parents or legal guardians with a variety of expenses, including down payments, closing costs or minor household repairs. Additionally, OPWDD is approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as a housing counseling agency and HOYO representatives are certified by NeighborWorks America to provide pre- and post-homeownership counseling, financial education, credit counseling, foreclosure prevention, identity theft and predatory lending.

For more information about HOYO, people are encouraged to contact OPWDD at 1-866-946-9733.
For more information about CDTA services, visit

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