Kenner officials on Monday began accepting applications for a program designed to help first-time homebuyers with low and moderate incomes buy houses in the city.

Successful applicants can win a grant of up to $35,000 to help purchase a home in Kenner with a maximum value of $180,000.

Grants come in the form of a “soft” second mortgage that does not have to be paid back if recipients meet all the conditions they agree to by participating in the program.

For example, participants who receive a $15,000 grant to purchase a house would not have to repay any part of the grant if they occupy the home for five years. The maximum $35,000 grant would require buyers to remain in the home for 10 years to avoid paying back the mortgage.

The maximum annual income for a single applicant is set at $33,600; for a family of two, it’s $38,400; for three, $43,200; for four, $48,000; for five, $51,850; for six, $55,700; for seven, $59,550; and for eight, $63,400.

The program is open only to first-time buyers in the market for single-family homes within Kenner’s city limits that are already built and comply with local building codes. Any home bought through the program must be acceptable to the property’s primary lender and insurer.

Participants also will have to complete a course that teaches potential homebuyers how to select and finance houses. The courses are offered at various sites in New Orleans and two locations on the east bank of Jefferson Parish, all of which have been approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Officials said there is no firm deadline for applications. Grants will be doled out until the $500,000 in available funding is spent, Kenner spokesman Bob Ross said.

Anyone who wants to participate can start by downloading an information packet online at www.kenner.la.us or picking one up at the city’s Community Development Office, 624 Williams Blvd.

Anyone with questions may call housing assistance programs specialist Joan Baptiste at (504) 468-7588 or email cd@kenner.la.us.