(CBS) — Want to buy your first house, but the down payment and closing costs are too steep? The city wants to help, with a handout worth thousands of dollars. CBS 2’s Mike Parker explains how you can cash in.

The housing stock is there across the city, but not everybody can afford to buy. The mayor says he wants to improve the odds.

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“The first down payment is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to helping people get into and on their way on to not only owning a home but a part of the American Dream,” Emanuel said.

Under Emanuel’s proposal, would-be homeowners could receive grants of up to five percent of the total loan amount. That could be more than $12,000 on a $250,000 house. To qualify, grant recipients could make no more than $121,600 a year.

“Renting right now, it actually seems like it’s more expensive than actually, you know, buying a house,” said Isaiah Johnson.

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The hardworking South Side family man says help with the down payment and closing costs would make all the difference.

“I can rebuild and do the whole structure on the inside,” Johnson said. “I’d be my own owner. That would be one beautiful thing.”

“I can’t wait for seeing the vans pull up to the front doors and the moving in vans for families that want to start on the American Dream.”

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Next month, Mayor Emanuel will ask the City Council to pony up an initial expenditure of $1 million to kick start the fund.