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This is Fred Ball for Zions Bank, speaking on business.
Low-income families in Utah now have a better chance of affording a house thanks to many Utah realtors. Through a program known as the Utah Association of Realtors Housing Opportunity Fund or U-A-R-HOF, interest earned on certain escrow accounts can be collected and put toward housing for people who likely can't afford it.
Until a few years ago, escrow accounts in Utah didn't earn interest. But the Utah Real Estate Commission voted to amend that rule so that earned interest could be collected for the U-A-R-HOF program. However, the amendment doesn't require banks to participate and not every bank does. But I'm proud to say Zions Bank is a leading participant in the program and has been involved since it was organized a few years ago. And that's a good thing because the program has helped many families. A Tibetan immigrant couple living in Salt Lake with their children had saved for years to buy their own home. Then a car accident left the wife paralyzed from the waist down and unable to work. Money from the U-A-R-HOF fund is helping the couple build a home that is wheelchair accessible.
Fourteen independent boards of realtors representing all of the state's major areas participate in the program, and money generated stays in the area it is raised. So for instance, a low-income family living in Carbon County could receive Housing Opportunity Fund money generated in Carbon County.
Funds are indirectly awarded to families through qualified charitable organizations and developers, as well as government agencies and housing authorities.
But whether anyone receives any money at all is still up to banks and real estate brokers. They decide whether or not to participate. If they do, real estate brokers managing that escrow account must make arrangements for the interest to go to the U-A-R-HOF. So you should encourage your broker to participate. After all, helping needy families get into housing is certainly worthwhile.
For Zions Bank, I'm Fred Ball. I'm speaking on business.