Homebuyer Home Improvement Program

Incentive Program

UNPA offers grants for families looking to move into the university neighborhood

UNPA has designed the Homebuyer Home Improvement Program as an incentive to attract buyers to the Syracuse University Neighborhood and to financially assist families or individuals who are interested in buying a home in the UNPA Target Area.

The Homebuyer Home Improvement Program is an incentive that seeks to increase the number of owner-occupied houses in the University Neighborhood by financially assisting families or individuals buying a home in the UNPA Target Area.

Just think of this assistance as a “gift from Mom and Dad” toward the improvement of a one, two or three-family house to remain or become an owner-occupied home.

Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis

Frequently Asked Questions


The program is for individuals or families that have recently closed on a home within the UNPA Target Area.


To qualify you must:

  • Have purchased and plan to reside in a property within the UNPA Target Area.
  • Have a closing statement or other documentation that can proved you closed on the house.
  • The closing date must be no more than 45 days prior to the date you file your application.
  • Make the improvements to the home in the upcoming 12 months.
  • Not currently have an existing UNPA grant.


You may request a grant in the amount of $2,500 to $5,100. This amount will include up to $4,600 in renovations and $500 toward legal fees. To apply for the Homebuyers Home Improvement Program, you must complete the application form and submit supporting documentation no later than 45 days after closing on your home. The supporting documentation required is:

  • W-9 Form for applicant and co-applicant
  • Confirmation of Closing or Copy of Settlement Statement
  • HUD 1 (if received)
  • Before photos of repairs to be made
  • Contractor estimates for the Scope of Work

If available: Proof that property was a rental during the 12 months preceding the purchase (e.g. rental registry from the City of Syracuse)

Applications are received on a rolling basis and will be valid for up to 12 months. Grants will be approved on a quarterly basis, and awards are based upon available funds. Applications are selected based on the priorities determined by UNPA’s Score Card.

Once you have been approved and completed the renovations, UNPA will reimburse you up to $4,600. Additionally, the grant award will cover $500 toward attorney and title search fees.

The UNPA “grant” is legally recorded as a “10-year term zero interest loan” or “lien” or “second mortgage” that has a “due-on-sale” or “recapture agreement”. Every year, you will be required to respond to the “Verification of Occupancy Letter” to confirm you are residing in the property. You will be required to reimburse UNPA if you sell, rent or vacate the property before the required 10-year owner occupancy term.


Funds can be used for both interior and exterior improvements and can be used to pay for materials, supplies and contractor costs. The purchase of major appliances is also an approved expense. UNPA recommends buying the most energy efficient appliances available as additional funding may be available from NYSERDA.


  1. UNPA receives and verifies the application. We maintain a rolling deadline to ensure we award the funds to those buyers who best meeting our criteria. Verified applications that have been received in the previous 12 months are considered for that quarter’s round of funding. Applications received within this timeframe will be good for 1 year from application date. UNPA reserves the right to roll over grant money to the next grant cycle for our fiscal year (July 1- June 30).
  2. Every quarter, grants will be awarded to the highest scores based on availability of funds. If two applications have the same score, priority will be given to applicants that have never received the grant before. However, depending on the rest of the grant cycle, applicants that were previously not awarded the grant may be reconsidered when applications are low (e.g. during the winter).
  3. Applications selected for the quarter will be sent a “Conditional Approval Letter” with a request for the following additional documentation:
  • Copies of any required permits from the City of Syracuse’s Code Enforcement office
  • Homeowners insurance binder showing UNPA as a 2nd mortgage lender
  • Final Quote/Contract with contractor specifying start date and timeline; and/or
  • Receipt from supplier with start date, timeline, delivery date of items or material; and/or
  • Invoices of the completed renovations
  1. Grantee must present the documentation required within 45 days of the “Conditional Approval Letter”. All the necessary paperwork must be submitted on time, after which UNPA will issue an “Approval Letter” that guarantees the funds have been placed in Escrow and that the grantee will be provided the funds once the project is completed within 6 months or the stipulated deadline specified in the letter.
  2. Once all the renovations have been completed, the grantee will mail invoices and photos of the completed renovations to UNPA. UNPA will then issue a “Ready to Schedule Letter” to UNPA’s Lawyer. The Lawyer will then contact the grantor to schedule the signature of the grant award and hand the client the check.

Grantees are required to reside in the property for at least 10 years in order for the grant to be fully awarded. At the end of the 10 years, UNPA will send the Grantee a “Discharge Letter” and the lien will be removed from the property.


The criteria considered in the Scorecard includes:

  • The property was a long term vacancy
  • The property was 100% a rental before being purchased by the owner-occupant submitting the application
  • The property requires being converted back from a rental to original multi-family or single family floor plan
  • Priority zone where there are high rental to owner-occupant ratios are present and buffer zones around those areas
  • First time home buyer
  • Property is located next to a rental or has rental properties on both sides
  • Multi-family unit for which all units were rented in the past, but now at least one unit will be owner-occupied
  • Properties with demonstrated full or partial structural failure of key building components
  • Current neighborhood resident (owner or renter)

Finally, although income thresholds are not considered to qualify for a grant, additional points will be granted to Low and Moderate Income Households as per HUD’s definition (80% AMI). Income verification would be needed for households to qualify for these additional points.


The University Neighborhood Preservation Association is committed to promoting owner-occupacy in the UNPA Target Area


(315) 476-5228
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