12 Sep

First Recipients of Measure A-Funded Down Payment Assistance Program Move into Homes

Loans assist median-income homebuyers, including teacher, technician and caregiver

SAN JOSE, CALIF-The first recipients of a down payment assistance program, funded by the 2016 Measure A Affordable Housing Bond, have purchased their homes. The program, called Empower Homebuyers SCC, is intended to help households who make up to 120% of the area median income – the “missing middle” in Santa Clara County – become first-time homeowners.

“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,” said County of Santa Clara Supervisor Cindy Chavez. “It is one piece of the puzzle to addressing our area’s housing crisis. The early success of this program will inspire us to continue this important work for the countless other families who need it.”

Empower Homebuyers SCC was created by the County of Santa Clara with funds from Measure A – the Affordable Housing Bond passed by voters in 2016. Housing Trust Silicon Valley, a nonprofit community development financial institution, is the administrator of the program, which is expected to help approximately 230 first-time homebuyers in the first five years of the program. Empower Homebuyers SCC provides deferred loans for down payments up to 17% of a home’s purchase price. Like Housing Trust’s HELP program, the County’s down payment loan program does not require monthly principal or interest payments – borrowers will repay the principal loan amount plus a share of appreciation based on the percentage of the amount borrowed.

So far, the program has helped eight residents from Santa Clara County purchase homes, with another seven in the pipeline. New homeowners include a schoolteacher with the Santa Clara Unified School district, an electrical engineer, a technician and a caregiver. One of the first beneficiaries of the program is Alexa Pham of San Jose, who emigrated from Vietnam in her early teens and has called the Bay Area home ever since. She began a career in manufacturing after high school and worked her way up to the role of supervisor – becoming a single mom along the way. Before long, rent was becoming a strain on finances and pressured her to move farther from work and her son’s school but an online search for help led her to Empower Homebuyers SCC. Last month she moved into her own home and this fall, her son started his senior year at the same school he’s always known.

“It’s hard for a single mom to get a house, and this program helped my dream come true,” Pham said, from her new home in San Jose. “I still can’t believe it. Having the opportunity to buy a house is just amazing.”

Another homebuyer, Phuc Truong, had been renting in the Bay Area for 14 years – the last five in a mobile home with her husband Ngoc and their two small children. Even though they both worked and saved, they had difficulty reaching the goal of a down payment. With the help of Empower Homebuyers SCC, they finally bought their first home in San Jose this summer, not far from their jobs and close to both of their parents who also call the city home. The best part is their children, ages 7 and 4, have a lot more room to run around and play hide-and-seek, which was hard to do in a small mobile home.

“This is my house – I can decorate it however I want and it is more comfortable,” Truong said. “Our kids love to play in the big backyard and have their own room. This is a place we can call home.”

“We believe when people can own homes in communities that matter to them, lives are healthier, richer, and happier.” said Kevin Zwick, CEO of Housing Trust Silicon Valley. “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.”

ABOUT EMPOWER HOMEBUYERS

Empower Homebuyers SCC is a program of the County of Santa Clara administered by Housing Trust Silicon Valley. It provides down payment assistance loans to first-time homebuyers in the county and is funded by the 2016 Measure A Affordable Housing Bond. The program is aimed to assist low to moderate income County residents – including employees at nonprofit organizations, teachers, healthcare professionals, County employees and others. The maximum gross household income is 120% of the Area Median Income, based on household size (for example, $157,700 for a family of four). For more information about the program and criteria to qualify, please visit https://housingtrustsv.org/programs/empowerhomebuyersscc/.

ABOUT THE 2016 MEASURE A AFFORDABLE HOUSING BOND

The 2016 voter-approved $950 million Measure A Affordable Housing Bond is projected to fund 120 new affordable housing developments over 10 years, including 4,800 new apartments dedicated to extremely low-income and very low-income households. In addition, the County will establish rental and ownership opportunities for moderate income households. The bond will enhance the County’s ability to achieve its housing priorities which include: increasing the scope and breadth of supportive housing for special needs populations, including veterans, seniors, people who are disabled, foster youth, survivors of abuse, chronically homeless, and individuals suffering from mental health or substance abuse illnesses; increasing the supply of housing that is affordable to extremely low-income households; and improving coordination and collaboration among the County, the cities, other governmental agencies, and the affordable housing community. For more information on the 2016 Measure A Affordable Housing Bond, visit www.supportivehousingscc.org/housingbond.

ABOUT HOUSING TRUST SILICON VALLEY

Housing Trust Silicon Valley (Housing Trust) is a nonprofit community loan fund based in San Jose that works to improve quality of life low-income people in the greater Bay Area by increasing affordable housing opportunities. Since 2000, Housing Trust has invested over $257 million in programs that help everyone from those experiencing homelessness to renters to first-time homebuyers – creating nearly 19,000 affordable housing opportunities serving over 34,000 of our neighbors. It is the first nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) to receive a Standard & Poor’s rating, AA- because of its strong capacity to meet financial commitments. For more information visit www.housingtrustsv.org

ABOUT THE COUNTY OF SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA 

The County of Santa Clara government serves a diverse, multi-cultural population of 1.9 million residents in Santa Clara County, the sixth largest county in California. With a $8.17 billion budget, more than 70 agencies/departments and nearly 22,000 employees, the County of Santa Clara plans for the needs of a dynamic community, offers quality services, and promotes a healthy, safe and prosperous community for all.  The County provides essential services, including public health and environmental protection; behavioral health and medical services through the County of Santa Clara Health System including Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (Hospital and Clinics), O’Connor Hospital and Saint Louise Regional Hospital; child and adult protection services; homelessness prevention and solutions; roads, parks and libraries; emergency response to disasters; protection of minority communities and those under threat; access to a fair criminal justice system, and scores of other services, particularly for those members of our community in the greatest need.