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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on May 1st, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 8 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 8

Local nonprofit helps county's low-income families purchase homes

BY CAMILLIA LANHAM

Coming up with the down payment for a house isn’t realistic for many low-income families, but the Housing Trust Fund of Santa Barbara County has one big tool in its arsenal to make doing so a bit more tangible.

The nonprofit is entering the second year of a Workforce Homebuyer Down Payment Loan Program that has so far helped eight families buy homes in the county. Six of those homes have been in Santa Maria.

On May 8, the Housing Trust Fund is holding a workshop in Santa Maria to educate low-income families about how they can get help to buy a home. The loan program can provide a 30-year deferred down payment loan of up to $42,000—that is, if the homebuyer is income eligible and takes a homebuyer training course.

The California Department of Housing and Community Development awarded the Housing Trust Fund a $1.2 million grant in 2012, which essentially started the Workforce Homebuyer program, organization president Jennifer McGovern said. Grants and donations help fund much of the group’s work.

“We try to raise capital to facilitate housing projects that are affordable and expand home ownership,” McGovern said. “Having affordable home ownership is the key to economic competitiveness in the community.”

Until 2012, the Housing Trust Fund focused primarily on raising money to build affordable housing projects. Since 2005, the organization has helped create low-cost housing options by giving low-interest or no-interest loans for projects such as the Recovery Way Home in Lompoc and the El Correo Project in Santa Barbara.

Loans through the Workforce Homebuyer program are also low- or no-interest, and must be paid back when a house is sold, refinanced, or at the end of the 30-year period. She said there is enough grant money left to give 25 to 30 more down payment loans to families that need it.

Although residents throughout the county are eligible for the loans, the program is targeting cities in the northern part of the county. Santa Maria grants specialist Rosie Nárez said Santa Maria is helping support the program through a $75,000 Community Block Grant the city awarded to the nonprofit in the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

Nárez said the money was awarded to help with closing costs on houses purchased with a workforce down payment loan.

“It’s not so much the monthly payments that are hard for a family,” Nárez said. “It’s the down payment and the closing costs that go with it.”

The block grant money allows the Housing Trust Fund to give up to $3,000 toward the closing of any house bought in Santa Maria’s city limits. She said there’s enough in the closing cost fund to help with at least five more houses.

“We’re excited to be able to work with the Housing Trust Fund to facilitate families trying to realize the American Dream, which is to buy a house,” Nárez said.

The workshop will be at the Santa Maria Public Library, 421 S. McClelland St., in Shepard Hall from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on May 8.

For more information, visit sbhousing
trust.org.