Down payment assistance programs have become efficient economic tools in helping low-to-moderate-income families become homeowners and accumulate wealth, according to a first-ever study of the economic impact of privately funded DPA programs launched by the Nehemiah Corporation of America, Sacramento, Calif.Conducted by the Milken Institute, Santa Monica, Calif., the study examined over 36,000 Nehemiah down payment assistance recipient families in six major markets: Sacramento, Calif., Columbus, Ohio, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Atlanta and Baltimore. The study found that nationally, between 1997 and 2003, over 115,000 primarily low- to moderate-income families --that represent about 70% of Nehemiah's total DPA program portfolio -- reported an aggregated rise of over $2.2 billion in home equity value, or an average of more than $18,000 per family. As to minority families, on average African-American homeowners reported equity rises of $7,200 per family, compared to rises of $12,000 per family reported by Hispanic families. Over the last six years since Nehemiah pioneered its DPA product, besides increasing homeownership rates, the Nehemiah Program has generated $287 million in municipal and county property tax revenue in the aforementioned six markets.

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