FAQ on HIP
Each participating corporation or institution has its own HIP, but there are certain basic elements that each of these HIPs share in common. The information presented below describes some of those shared elements.
Where does HIP come from? HIP is modeled on very successful programs run in New Haven by Yale University and in Springfield by MassMutual. Nearly 1,000 employees at Yale have participated in their HIP, and the program has had a dramatic effect on the neighborhoods Yale targeted for expanded homeownership. MassMutual's HIP is more limited in its scope, but their HIP has had an equally significant impact on the neighborhoods they targeted in Springfield.
How does HIP operate? Each participating corporation designs and funds its own HIP, but they adhere to some general, shared parameters. Eligible employees receive an incentive in exchange for a commitment to buy a home in Hartford or certain target neighborhoods within Hartford and to reside in that home for a set number of years. The incentive is offered as a conditional grant, which secures the employee's commitment to own their home in Hartford, and the employee receives this incentive at their closing on their home.
A "conditional grant" -- huh? The most straightforward answer to that is this: HIP encourages you to move into Hartford by offering you $10,000 to do so -- that's the grant -- but HIP also requires you to purchase a home somewhere in Hartford -- and that's the condition. How you fulfill that condition -- and where the somewhere in Hartford is -- depends on your employer, as each corporation participating in HIP sets its own target neighborhoods and establishes its own conditions. You should check with the HIP administrator to discuss the specifics of your company's HIP.
So it's income? Yes: and it is extremely important to note that this grant is, therefore, taxable. Your company has put into place a process to withhold your income tax from the grant, but how that happens depends on the process your employer established. Check with the HIP administrator to discuss the specifics of your company's HIP.
I work for a company offering a HIP. How do I get started? Information is available on on our web site as well as on your employer's intranet site, but you can also get started by clicking here.
Who is eligible? Generally speaking, employees of participating corporations and institutions are eligible for HIP if the meet the following criteria:
- They have been employed by their company for a specified length of time, depending on their company, at the time they apply to HIP;
- They are an employee in good standing with their company;
- They have been pre-approved by a mortgage lender of their choice;
- They agree to purchase a home in Hartford or a specific neighborhood in Hartford; and
- They agree to live in the home for a set period of time.
There will be some differences within these criteria between participating companies. For example, each company will define "good standing" differently, and some companies may choose target neighborhoods instead of the whole of Hartford. Still, these criteria give a good idea of who is eligible to participate in the program. See your company's dedicated pages for details on how your HIP works.
We also strongly recommend that you become pre-qualified for a mortgage before you apply for this program. Although pre-qualification for a mortgage is not a prerequisite for applying to HIP, pre-qualification will greatly facilitate your participation in this program.
What types of homes are eligible? Eligible employees can buy single-family homes, two-family homes, three-family homes, or condominiums. Employees will have to occupy whatever type of home they buy as the homeowner, but they will not be restricted in terms of renting out the other units in a multi-unit home. In fact, multi-unit homes could provide supplemental income to the homebuyer and make the home more affordable for the employee.
Does it matter which lender I use? No, it's entirely up to you. However, we are working with some local lenders who are familiar with buying a home in Hartford and with the public programs that can help out first-time homebuyers in Hartford. Contact the HIP manager if you are interested in receiving contact information for these lenders.
I may have credit issues. Do I need to resolve those issues before I apply? No, but because we recommend you pre-qualify for a mortgage before you apply for HIP, we also recommend that you address any credit problems you have before you apply. We have established a partnership with the Urban League of Greater Hartford (ULGH) for potential HIP applicants who may have credit issues. ULGH offers a wide range of services, including credit review and counseling and homebuyer education classes. Please contact Val Gene Gripes, ULGH, at 860-527-0147 x283 or <email@example.com> for more information, and say that you are interested in a HIP administered by NINA.
How does the incentive work? The employee receives the grant at the closing of the purchase of their home. The participating employer delivers the check to the employee's attorney, and the attorney turns the check over to the employee at the closing.
How do I apply? Applications are available on your company's intranet site, but you can also apply directly from NINA's web site. Once the application is received, you will be contacted by the HIP manager at NINA to begin the process.
How are employees chosen? Employees are chosen on a first-come, first-served basis. Every application is time- and date-stamped upon receipt in order to determine priority on the list. The HIP manager then works with the applicant's employer to verify the their eligibility. If the applicant is eligible, a HIP grant will be reserved for them while they secure a purchase and sale agreement on an eligible home. BUT: the reservation isn't held indefinitely. If you take longer than a period of time established by your company, your reservation will be passed along to the next person in the queue, and you will be placed at the end of the line.
How are employees notified they have been chosen? They receive a phone call from the HIP manager, followed by a confirmation letter or e-mail.
How long does the selection process take? The process is simple and quick. The HIP manager verifies your eligibility and then contacts you immediately.
Is there a waiting list? Yes. There are a limited number of incentives offered during each company's fiscal year, and if all of those incentives have been taken or reserved, then eligible employees are placed on a waiting list. Waiting lists will be carried over to subsequent years, so re-application is not necessary once the employee is on the waiting list.
Does the reservation for the incentive expire? Yes. The employee's incentive is reserved for 60 days from the date they are first notified of their approval. Within that time, the employee must provide a copy of a signed purchase and sale agreement on an eligible home. If the employee is unable to secure a signed purchase and sale agreement on an eligible home by the deadline, the reservation expires and is passed on to the next eligible employee on the waiting list.
What happens if the employee doesn't fulfill the terms of the commitment? If the employee breaks the commitment by moving out of the house, whether they then sell the house or they move out and rent it to tenants, then the employee will be required to return any unforgiven portion of the incentive. Please note, though: if you buy a multi-family home, you can rent units in that home without violating the terms of HIP -- so long as you live in one of the units, you are meeting the terms of HIP.
What happens if the employee leaves their company after joining HIP? It depends on the circumstances. If the employee leaves voluntarily or because of poor performance, then the employee will be required to return the unforgiven portion of the HIP incentive. If, however, the employee is terminated due to elimination of their position or because of a reduction in force, then any outstanding, unforgiven balance on the incentive will be forgiven and the incentive will be considered fully the employee's. The full amount forgiven would then be reported as income at that point in time.
Any additional questions? Contact the HIP manager by e-mail or by phone at (860) 244-9390.