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Philadelphia Inquirer: Philly’s first-time home buyers will get more help from the city when its grant program returns

Akirah Pressley’s three decades of life have been marked by instability. When she was 13, her mother died.

A few years later, she was forced to leave home. She graduated from high school with a baby. She has moved more than 20 times. “I was almost homeless,” she said.

“Yeah, I was a teen mom. They want you to look at these things like a negative, but life is what you make it.” Last August, she was able to buy a rowhouse in Northeast Philadelphia. She has a front lawn and autonomy and stability.

“Having my own home, I love it,” she said. “This was always a dream of mine to buy a home.”

Like many first-time home buyers, especially those with low incomes that make saving difficult, Pressley faced a barrier she couldn’t overcome on her own: the immediate up-front purchase costs. So she cobbled together buyer assistance grants: $2,000 from the Philadelphia Housing Authority through its PhillySEEDS closing cost assistance program, $5,000 from the First Front Door program through her lender, $4,000 from a United Way match program.

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