Phuc Truong has been renting in the Bay Area for the last 14 years, struggling to scrape together enough for a down payment on her own home. For the last five of those years, packed in a mobile home with her husband Ngoc and their two children.
But with help from the Empower Homebuyers SCC program, Truong and her family bought a place of their own in San Jose this summer.
“This is my house—I can decorate it however I want and it is more comfortable,” Truong said in an interview this week. “Our kids love to play in the big backyard and have their own room. This is a place we can call home.”
Santa Clara County, in partnership with Housing Trust Silicon Valley, announced today that some of the first recipients of the down payment assistance program succeeded in buying homes. Funded by Measure A, an affordable housing bond passed by voters in 2016, the loan subsidies help prospective homebuyers cover their down payment.
The down payment assistance comprises a 30-year deferred loan for up to 17 percent of a home’s purchase price. There’s no monthly payment, and according to a press release about the program, “borrowers will repay the principal loan amount plus a share of appreciation based on the percentage of the amount borrowed.”
Adria Quinones-Masur, the Housing Trust’s director of homeownership programs, says the loans offer a vital hand up in a dizzyingly pricey housing market.
“It makes a big difference for the families,” she told San Jose Inside. “It helps first-time homebuyers when they’re getting their foot in the door.”
Housing Trust Silicon Valley is expected to administer approximately 230 loans to first-time homebuyers in the first five years of the program. Right now, eight new homeowners have benefitted from the loans, and another family is poised to receive a ninth. Quinones-Masur said that another eight down payment loan applicants are still perusing real estate listings for their own homes.
The best part of the process, she added, is seeing “the thrill on their face” when someone finally submits an offer on a house.
“Santa Clara County’s Empower Homebuyers program really allows the homeowner to have a fighting chance at affording a home, building up that equity, paying us back so that we can give that back to the next resident of our community,” county Supervisor Cindy Chavez said. “It is one piece of the puzzle to addressing our area’s housing crisis.”
In order to be eligible for a loan, your household income may be no more than 120 percent of the area median income and you must be able to put down at least three percent of a home’s purchase price.
So far the program has assisted a teacher in the Santa Clara Unified School district, an electrical engineer, a technician and a caregiver with buying a home.
“We believe when people can own homes in communities that matter to them, lives are healthier, richer, and happier.” Kevin Zwick, the CEO of Housing Trust Silicon Valley, said. “We’re proud to work with the county of Santa Clara on this program and we are excited to help put Measure A funds toward the worthwhile goal of increasing homeownership and reducing the fear of displacement for longtime renters.”