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Merchants Commercial Bank becomes first lending institution to enter MOA to refer applications for VI Slice Moderate-Income Homeownership Program

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, St. Thomas, U. S. Virgin Islands – March 15, 2023 — Merchants Commercial Bank in the U.S. Virgin Islands recently entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority (VIEDA) to officially implement the VI Slice Moderate-Income Homeownership Program (hereafter “VI Slice Program”) in the Territory. This is the first bank to formally enter into this agreement with the VIEDA to assist moderate-income families in getting access to gap financing for homeownership through the VI Slice Program.

This MOA outlines the scope of services to be rendered by lending institutions participating in the VI Slice Program in an approved agreement between the bank and the VIEDA to implement the VI Slice Program in the Territory. 

“Lt. Governor Roach and I, and our Administration continue to believe in providing opportunities for homeownership for families in the U.S. Virgin Islands, including families that earn a moderate income in our Territory. The VI Slice Moderate-Income Homeownership Program was created to do just that through a partnership between our public and private sectors that can help make dreams of homeownership a reality for many Virgin Islanders and residents,” said USVI Governor Albert Bryan, Jr.   “Merchants Commercial Bank is the first of many lending institutions to help move the VI Slice Program forward so that our moderate-income families can get access to their piece of the U.S. Virgin Islands. I’d like to thank Merchants Commercial Bank and the VIEDA team for their work through the VI Slice Program for the benefit of our residents who are seeking to own their first home in the USVI,” added Governor Bryan, Jr.

This program is a homeownership assistance program created to help provide eligible, moderate-income families with up to $200,000 in gap financing to either buy a home, buy a home that needs to be rehabilitated, construct a home on land that is owned or purchased, or to pay towards the down payment and/or closing cost.

The primary goal of the VI Slice Program is to establish opportunities that may increase homeownership rates amongst moderate-income families. The VI Slice Program originated in October 2022 through a collaboration with the Office of the Governor, the Office of Disaster Recovery, and the Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority in partnership with local banking institutions and mortgage companies.  This program is funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021.  Since its inception, there has been a significant interest in the program.\

“The VIEDA recently hosted a webinar about the VI Slice Homeownership Program which attracted more than 130 participants. We are excited that people are interested in learning about VI Slice and hope that this interest continues to increase and translates into individuals who are eligible to apply for this program,” said VIEDA CEO Wayne L. Biggs, Jr.  “We encourage interested persons to visit the VI Slice website to learn about eligibility requirements and to get the information they need to apply for a mortgage at a lender that is participating in the VI Slice Program. We thank Merchants Commercial Bank for being the first bank to commit to the implementation of the VI Slice Program to assist our residents in becoming first-time homeowners. As MOAs are finalized with other lending institutions, we will inform the public,” added CEO Biggs.

In January 2023, the VIEDA officially launched the VI Slice Program website, www.vislice.com, which includes a directory of participating local banking institutions and mortgage companies that allows prospective applicants to browse and select lenders participating in the VI Slice program. 

“Given our focus of providing a superior customer experience to potential and existing clients, Merchants Commercial Bank is proud to partner with VIEDA to assist moderate-income families in accessing gap financing through the VI Slice Program. As the only locally-chartered bank conducting business in the Territory, Merchants Commercial Bank recognizes the significant role home ownership plays in enhancing the economic fabric of the community and welcomes this opportunity to provide another alternative for individuals to fulfill their dream of owning a home,” said Valdamier Collens, President, Merchants Commercial Bank.

To participate in this program, all eligible individuals must first apply for a conventional mortgage loan through one of the mortgage lenders participating in the VI Slice Program. If the mortgage lender discovers a shortfall in funds between the overall project cost and the amount the applicant secured through a primary lender, the VIEDA provides gap financing, through the ARPA grant, to bridge the gap.

To learn more about the VI Slice Moderate-Income Homeownership Program, visit www.vislice.com.  A recording of the first VI Slice Homeownership Program webinar is also on the VIEDA’s website at www.usvieda.org .

“The Bryan-Roach Administration is investing in the Territory’s people, infrastructure and future through transparency, stabilizing the economy, restoring trust in the government and ensuring that recovery projects are completed as quickly as possible. Visit http://transparency.vi.gov .”

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