Homebuyer Empowerment Loan Program (HELP)

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How It Helps:

Buying a house in this market is tough and saving for a down payment is a major obstacle. HELP is designed to provide down payment assistance for up to half of your down payment (or 10% of the purchase price of a house up to $800,000). So if you’re looking to buy a home in the Bay Area and have trouble making that big down payment, HELP may be for you!

What You Need to Know

A HELP loan is a thirty year deferred loan, plus a share of the home’s appreciation that matches what you borrow – so if you borrow 10% of your future home’s value Housing Trust’s share of the appreciation is only 10% and the rest of the equity that builds up in your home over time is yours! Because the loan is a shared appreciation loan, no monthly payments of any kind are required. Payment is deferred until your loan reaches its maturity date, you decide to sell your home, or you refinance your mortgage.

Step 1 – Intake Complete an intake form and submit it to Housing Trust staff for pre-screening

Step 2 – Find a Lender Contact an approved lender for pre-approval. Housing Trust works with all approved lenders

Step 3 – Application With lender pre-approval, complete a Program Eligibility Application and contact staff for an appointment

You Can Qualify for HELP if:

  • You are a first-time homebuyer buying a primary residence in Santa Clara County or the cities of Menlo Park or East Palo Alto
  • You have pre-approval from an approved lender (done prior to submitting application) and your household income is within the designated limits
  • You have completed a HUD-certified 8 Hour Homebuyer Education class through the designated agency


Maximum Gross Household Income by Household Size (2019)

Household Size 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Income Limit $128,800 $147,140 $165,550 $183,960 $198,660 $213,360 $228,130 $242,830 $257,530 $272,230

*The Maximum Annual Gross Household Income Limits are established annually by California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). Figures represent 140% of Area Median Income (AMI) as of May, 6, 2019.


Interested in applying? Visit the Homeownership Assistance page.


Homebuyer Empowerment Loan Program (HELP) 

Maximum Loan Amount Up to 10% of the purchase price
Interest Rate Share of Appreciation
Term/Maturity Date 30 years
Monthly Payments(Principal & Interest) Deferred
Program Market Area Available Santa Clara County (and San Mateo County cities of East Palo Alto and Menlo Park)
First-Time Buyer Status Required Yes
8-Hour Homebuyer Education Class Required Yes
Maximum Gross Household Income Limit Up to 140% of Area Median Income
Minimum Credit Score 680
Asset Limits $125,000
HTSV Pre-Approval Required Yes
Maximum Purchase Price of Home $800,000
Owner Occupancy Required Yes-Annual Monitoring/Compliance Check
First Mortgage Requirement 30 Year Fully Amortized Fixed Rate Mortgage Only- No Adjustable Rate or Interest Only Mortgages Allowed
Minimum/Maximum Loan to Value (LTV) 70% / 87%
Combined Loan to Value (CLTV) Cannot exceed 97%