Across the country over the last 40 years, home values have skyrocketed, but household income has failed to keep pace — an effect felt disproportionately in diverse communities like Mt. Airy. In December 2021, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on how this inequity has been exacerbated by the pandemic. It was this story that led Carol Shearon to reach out to Mt. Airy CDC and establish the Mt. Airy First-Time Homebuyer Fund.

In the Inquirer story, Mt. Airy CDC’s Director of Housing Counseling Stephanie Butler illustrated how factors such as a limited credit history will prevent banks from lending to Black applicants. Another tangible barrier is closing costs, which amount to roughly 5% of the overall home value. 

Guided by her Quaker faith and practices, Carol Shearon has worked since 2016 to raise awareness of and funds for refugees throughout the world. She was moved by the Inquirer story to create a fund that would help locally.  “Historically, our country has used redlining and steering to exclude people of color from the housing market,” said Mrs. Shearon. “This is my small attempt to correct this injustice.”

Launched in April 2022, the Mt. Airy First Time Homebuyer Fund works alongside other first-time homebuyer grant sources to help those who have completed Mt. Airy CDC’s homebuyer counseling program purchase their first homes. Funds are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis to help defray down payment or closing costs. 

Homeownership promotes wealth building,” said Stephanie Butler, Mt. Airy CDC’s Director of Housing Counseling. “It is a keystone for financial and emotional security that greatly impacts the community as a whole.”

Since the 1990s, Mt. Airy CDC’s award-winning housing counseling team has existed to serve homeowners by: assisting first time homebuyers through free workshops and counseling; educating homeowners on resources available for home improvements, as well as budget and credit repair; and helping families facing hardships keep and remain in their homes. 

Mt. Airy CDC’s Executive Director Philip Dawson said, “By reducing the barriers to homeownership, this Fund strengthens Mt. Airy’s identity as a diverse community of opportunity for all.” 

A fund recipient and her daughters are pictured with donor Carol Shearon.


Mt. Airy CDC’s First-Time Homebuyer Fund (“Fund”) is a program to help lower-income first-time buyers with down payment and closing costs when purchasing a home. 

The grant is offered to first-time homebuyers who receive housing counseling from Mt. Airy CDC’s HUD-certified housing counselors. A grant of up to $2,000 per household (funding permitted) is available for closing costs and/or down payment assistance, and is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Homebuyers must meet income eligibility standards as follows: 

Income Guidelines

Income is calculated using gross income for all members of the family who will live in the home, at 80% AMI of Philadelphia.

# of Household MembersGross Annual Income

The goal of the program is to encourage growth in homeownership by opening access to affordable housing opportunities. There is no lien against the homeowner’s property as a result of these funds. The funds are a grant to the homeowner with no strings attached.

Applicants must complete 8 hours of homeowner education counseling (1 First-Time Homebuyer Workshop and 2 one-on-one counseling sessions) by Mt. Airy CDC before signing an agreement of sale. Counseling must be completed no more than 1 year prior to applying for the Fund. This education includes but is not limited to:

  • Understanding the legal documents associated with the closing process.
  • Understanding other settlement assistance programs.
  • Purchasing a home within your financial means.
  • Credit counseling and repair.
  • Budgeting, savings, and money management.
  • Closing costs and moving expenses.
  • Fair housing principles and fair lending.
  • Loan products comparison.
  • Finding a home and understanding the agreement of sale.
  • Home Inspection.
  • The mortgage application and purchase process.
  • Deeds and other legal housing documents.
  • Home maintenance.
  • How to prevent foreclosure of the home.
  • Rights and responsibilities of homeowners.


To qualify for the grant, the applicant must:

  • be a first-time homebuyer (one who has never purchased a home);
  • purchase a property within the City of Philadelphia; 
  • occupy the property as the primary residence; 
  • have a household annual income of no more than 80% of Philadelphia AMI;
  • successfully complete the one-on-one 8-hour homebuyer education and counseling course (1 workshop and 2 counseling sessions) offered by MACDC’s HUD-certified counselors before signing an agreement of sale;
  • qualify for an appropriate mortgage based on reasonable income and credit-worthiness standards (38/45 ratios: mortgage should be within the spending limits of 38% of monthly gross income as the housing ratio, and 45% as the debt-to-income ratio) and a reasonable interest rate, and 
  • be approved based on client’s verified income (Balloon notes, interest only, adjustable rate mortgages, stated or no-doc income loans are not acceptable.);


Homebuyers must:

  • make certain all eligibility requirements listed above are met;
  • have received their First-Time Homebuyer Workshop Certificate and Homebuyer Counseling Certificate from MACDC;
  • maintain on-going contact with their housing counselor, allowing no more than a lapse of two months between contacts;
  • provide the counselor with a copy of the fully executed Agreement of Sale once it is signed by the seller;
  • when applying for a mortgage, keep within the spending limits of 38% of monthly gross income as the housing ratio, and 45% as the debt-to-income ratio (providing a higher down payment on the mortgage may keep the ratios within the acceptable range);
  • notify the lender at the time of the loan application that the $2,000 grant is part of the transaction for either down payment, closing costs, or both;
  • provide the housing counselor with a copy of: Loan Estimate, Closing Disclosure form, Notice of Settlement (including title’s company Tax ID number)
  • at closing, ensure that the MACDC First-Time Homebuyer Fund grant of up to $2,000 is listed on the Closing Disclosure form;
  • send a copy of the final Closing Disclosure form to the housing counselor after closing.

Eligible properties include:

  • Single family (attached or detached)
  • Rowhome
  • Manufactured homes meeting Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, VA, USDA or State HFA guidelines

Take the Eligibility Questionnaire to see if you are able to request funds:

You MUST be able to answer “Yes” to all three questions in order to start the process of requesting funds.

1. Do you have a First Time Homebuyer Workshop certificate dated within
    the last 12 months?

2. Do you have a pre-approval letter for a first mortgage?

3. Do you meet the income requirements for the program? See above

  • If you answered YES to all three questions, you are eligible! 
  • If you answered NO to any questions, you are not eligible to participate in this First Time Homebuyer Fund at this time. 

If the number of requests exceeds the amount of funds available, a limited number of individuals will be selected for the program. For those who are determined to be eligible, funds will be transferred to the title company for down payment or closing cost assistance within 20 business days of a complete application.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What can I use this money for? 100% of the grant funds must be used for closing costs or down payment. Funds will be transferred to the title company via ACH transfer.
  • Do I need to pay this money back? No. This grant does not create a mortgage, note, or any other interest that has to be paid back.  This money is to be used for closing costs or down payment, no other strings attached. 
  • Is there a forgivable timeframe? There is no forgivable timeframe.  
  • Does this grant create a lien against the property purchased? This grant does not grant Mt. Airy CDC any ownership interest in the property and does not create a lien. 
  • Do I need to live in the property for a minimum number of years? Owners do not need to live in the property for a certain number of years. 
  • Do I need to have a minimum amount of funds for the purchase of the home? The borrower is not required to have a minimum amount of their own funds in the transaction. 
  • Do I need to notify the lender that I am receiving this grant? Yes, all borrowers must notify their lender that they are receiving this grant. 
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