PINE BLUFF, Ark. – Homeownership can be rewarding and can build wealth, but it’s a goal harder to achieve for those who are struggling to make ends meet.

Now, there’s a new program helping turn that dream into reality.

According to U.S. Census data, the city of Pine Bluff saw homeownership drop from 66 percent to 53 percent.

Much of that drop is the increase in the ALICE population, which is ‘Asset-Limited, Income Constrained, Employed’, which is about 60-percent of Jefferson County residents.

It’s for people who earn more than the federal poverty rate but less than the essential cost of living.

It was started by Go Forward Pine Bluff and looks to boost homeownership and assist those who need it.

Donations from regional businesses will assist with down payment and closing costs for homes and Simmons Bank is offering a program specific to certain areas in Pine Bluff.

Go Forward CEO Ryan Watley hopes homeownership will boost investment in the community.

“We just have to begin to educate our population, get them to where they can want to own a home and a business because sometimes that homeownership might foster a business. There’s just so many benefits, so the sky is the limit for what we have and we just have to continue working it,” Watley said.

The specific area these will be offered for is from 17th Avenue to 34th Avenue, north and south, and from Olive Street to Hazel Street, east and west.

To take advantage of this program, homeowners must agree to live in the area for at least 5 years and agree to join the Pine Bluff Homeowners’ Association.