Madison: The Community Development Block Grant office is going to need a bigger waiting room, because the number of people applying for home funds is growing.
The program is designed to help low income people obtain down payment assistance on the way to buying their first home.
"It's one way to help people who are already part of this community become a greater part of this community," says Community Development Grants Supervisor Hickory Hurie.
The Common Council voted to expand the pool of applicants Tuesday night by allowing a new group of people to apply without using a social security number.
"They are working, they are paying taxes and into social security but don't have social security numbers and aren't eligible to do so," says Hurie.
Opponents say this new group of people is primarily illegal aliens, because while illegals can't get a social security number, they can get an Individual Tax Identification Number.
Peter Munoz of Centro Hispano disagrees. "The use of ITIN–the Individual Tax Identification Number–should not be construed to mean a status of immigration."
Munoz says many legal residents use their ITIN because that number is connected to their credit history. "Once people establish a credit record using that–meaning they've been paying taxes and maybe they've obtained loans through institutions, it's difficult to then change a number and follow the record."
The City of Madison has $400,000 in state and federal funds for the program. Hurie says out of 2,000 applicants only 40 to 60 get help.
"As with all our funds they are limited. So it's first applied, first qualified," says Hurie.
Hurie says for the first time ever, they expect to form a waiting list. "It's a possibility with any program that's underfunded that there will be people who won't be served and either need to wait till next year."
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