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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — If you’re looking to buy a home in Baltimore City, some help is on the way.

As Derek Valcourt explains, mortgage giant Wells Fargo will now offer $15,000 of down payment assistance to qualifying homebuyers.

When the country’s financial crisis hit and the housing market crashed, the U.S. Justice Department accused Wells Fargo of discriminatory lending practices. Now as part of a settlement, Wells Fargo will commit $4.5 million in down payment assistance grants to qualifying Baltimore homebuyers. That means 300 homebuyers in Baltimore could soon get $15,000 toward a down payment on their home.

“In spite of low-interest rates, saving up a down payment can be the biggest barrier to home ownership for hardworking families. Down payment assistance of $15,000 makes home ownership immediately more available and more affordable,” said Andy Bertamini, Wells Fargo.

It’s called the City Lift Program. To be eligible, the home you want to purchase has to be in Baltimore City, it must be the only home you own, you have to take an eight hour homebuyer education class and there are income guidelines. You have to make less than 120% of the median income in Baltimore. That’s less than $73,000 for an individual and less than $103,000 for a family of four.

The mayor calls it a great deal.

“2013 promises to be the best year ever to buy a home in Baltimore City. We have great values in beautiful neighborhoods,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

The down payment assistance would come in the form of a forgivable loan, meaning the $15,000 would not have to be paid back as long as you live in the house for more than five years.

The applications are being accepted right away for anyone who is already under a contract to purchase a home in Baltimore. The second phase of the program opens up to other applicants when Wells Fargo holds its homebuyer event in Baltimore later this year on April 5 and 6.

Baltimore is one of 20 cities in the country benefiting from Wells Fargo’s City Lift Program.

For more information on Wells Fargo’s City Lift Program, click here. For more information on the city’s neighborhood housing services, click here.

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