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Realtors group partners with local housing authority to provide grants to first-time homebuyers

First-time homebuyers may be able to receive a grant of $2,000 toward their transaction's closing costs under a program unveiled Wednesday by the Bakersfield Association of Realtors in cooperation with the Housing Authority of the County of Kern.

The First Time Homebuyer Closing Costs Assistance Grant Program is available to all county residents looking to buy their first home. But priority will be given to graduates of the Housing Authority's Family Self Sufficiency Program, a voluntary program offering job training, credit counseling and other assistance aimed at helping them achieve financial independence within five years.

It is the first such program offered through the Realtors association, which received money for the initiative from the California Association of Realtors' Housing Affordability Fund.

"Homeownership correlates to higher educational attainment, civic engagement, better health and happiness and lower crime," BAR President Scott Knoeb said in a news release. He added that the program will help close the gap families often face when trying to buy a home.

Heather Kimmel, the Housing Authority's assistant executive director, said in the release that the program will help its clients "cross the finish line to homeownership."

Information about qualifying and applying for the program is available online at www.bakersfieldrealtor.org or by emailing kim@bakersfieldrealtor.org.