Whitehall City Council on Sept. 18 was expected to pass legislation to establish the "My Home" program within the city.

Whitehall City Council on Sept. 18 was expected to pass legislation to establish the "My Home" program within the city.

The My Home program is a partnership between the city and Huntington Bank to help more Whitehall residents become homeowners.

"We are very excited to be partnering with Huntington Bank on the My Home program," Maggard said. "This program helps home buyers with a dream of owning their own home a reality."

To qualify for the program, the annual household income of an applicant must not exceed $125,000, and the buyer must contribute at least $500 to the down payment.

The forgivable loans would cover 4 percent of the purchase price, up to $5,000.

The borrower must agree to live in the residence for at least five years. If the borrower meets the requirement, the city will forgive the loan at the conclusion of the five-year term.

If the buyer were to rent out the residence or move out of Whitehall, the applicant would be required to repay a percentage of the loan based on when the terms of the agreement were broken.

If an applicant would sell the home but remain in Whitehall, the loan would be forgiven without penalty, but the applicant wouldn't be permitted to re-apply for the program.

If a borrower is a first-time home buyer or has a credit score below 650, the applicant must participate in a certified financial counseling program of Housing and Urban Development. The program is funded through a Community Neighborhood Stabilization Fund, an account Whitehall had established in 1997, when it set aside $500,000 for no specific purpose or use.

The city will use $150,000 toward the program and re-evaluate it after that amount is exhausted, said Lindsey Wright, public-affairs coordinator for Whitehall.

The program is made possible with the assistance of Huntington Bank, providing an affordable mortgage product that isn't available through other financial institutions, including a 30-year fixed-rate loan, a low down-payment requirement, flexibility in closing costs and a dedicated loan officer working with the city's development department to streamline the process.

Borrowers are not required to have private mortgage insurance, thus resulting in a significant monthly savings for the applicant.

To qualify for the program, the applicant must meet all pre-loan criteria and obtain a loan approval letter from Huntington Bank, after which an applicant would begin the process of obtaining a five-year forgivable loan. The process would begin at Huntington Bank, where a dedicated loan officer would accept program applications.

Council's vote was scheduled for Sept. 18, after ThisWeek's press time. Check ThisWeekNEWS.com for an update.

In other action, council members were expected to hear legislation concerning the salary of council members.

An ordinance proposing a salary increase for members of Whitehall City Council was scheduled for a second reading Sept. 18.

"City Council members have not had a raise since 1996," council president Jim Graham said.

Department directors have received raises since then, but council members opted not to provide raises for themselves when salary increases for the administration were approved.

The annual salary of a council member would increase from $4,000 to $4,600, and that of the council president would increase from $4,700 to $5,400, under the proposed ordinance.

The raise would not be effective until Jan. 1, 2014, when new council terms begin. Existing council members are prohibited from considering in-term salary increases.

Other legislation scheduled for a second reading Sept. 18 included ordinances transferring $6,600 from the general fund to the director-of-information-technology salary account, allowing a special permit for a temporary construction trailer at 3675 E. Broad St., and an ordinance allowing a special permit for limited servicing of motor vehicles at 4429 E. Main St.

A public hearing for both special permit requests is scheduled for Oct. 2.