Empower Homebuyers SCC

We believe communities prosper when people can own a home in places that matter to them.

With housing costs so high, many of our friends, families, colleagues, and neighbors in the greater Bay Area cannot afford to purchase a home here, because securing a down payment is out of reach. In San Jose for example, a 20% down payment for a median home is almost always more than enough money to purchase a home outright in many parts of the country. When greater Bay Area workers cannot secure homeownership, we all lose out – on diversity, a skilled, dynamic workforce, and community.

Empower Homebuyers SCC is here to help with down payment assistance. Funded by the 2016 Measure A Affordable Housing Bond, Empower Homebuyers SCC assists low to moderate income people purchase homes in Santa Clara County – including employees at nonprofit organizations, teachers, healthcare professionals, County employees and so many others.

How It Helps

Empower Homebuyers is a down payment assistance loan for first-time homebuyers in Santa Clara County. If a homebuyer has at least 3% of a home’s purchase price saved up, an Empower loan can provide up to 30% of the purchase price – enabling a down payment of 33% on a home. There is no maximum purchase price.

No matter the amount borrowed, there are no monthly payments or interest with an Empower Homebuyers loan. Instead, when the loan matures, you decide to sell or you refinance your mortgage, you repay the original amount of your loan plus a share of the appreciation of your home.

You will share your appreciation in equal proportion to the amount you borrowed. This means if your Empower loan was 20% of the purchase price, you will share 20% of the appreciation and the rest of the equity that builds up on your home over time is yours. For instance, if you buy a house for $600,000 and use Empower to borrow 20% ($120,000) for the down payment, and the home is later sold for $800,000, you would owe $120,000 (the original loan amount) plus $40,000 (which is 20% of the $200,000 appreciation) for a total of $160,000.

Notifications to Clients About No In-Person Meetings

Housing Trust Silicon Valley is not open to the public or accepting walk-in visits at this time. We are available to communicate with you via phone and email and kindly ask to please be patient with our response times. Below is our contact information:

Phone:           408-703-3837 ext. 301

Email:             EmpowerHomebuyersSCC@housingtrustsv.org

Program Requirement

  • Maximum loan amount of $250,000, up to 30% of the purchase price.
  • No maximum purchase price cap.
  • Your senior mortgage loan must be 30-year fixed.
  • Shared Appreciation:
    • Capped for the first ten years of the term of the loan.
    • After ten years, no longer capped.
    • The Percentage Share of Appreciation based on percentage of Original EMPOWER principal loan amount to the original purchase price of the home.
  • You must owner occupy the home.

Program Resources


  • You are a first-time homebuyer buying a primary residence in Santa Clara County
  • You live or work in Santa Clara County
  • You can put down a minimum of 3% of a home’s purchase price
  • You have pre-approval from an approved California-licensed lender (prior to submitting application)
  • You have completed a HUD-certified 8 Hour Homebuyer Education class through the designated agency
  • The gross household income, including all adult household members, must not exceed 120% of the Area Median Income

Maximum Gross Household Income Limits by Household Size

Household Size12345678
Income Limit   $154,800   $176,900   $199,050   $221,150   $238,850   $256,550   $274,250   $291,900

California Department of Housing and Community Development, 120% of Area Median Income (updated as of May 9, 2024)

For Maximum Annual Gross Household Income Limits for households of 9 or more, contact First-Time Homebuyer Team.

How To Apply

    Get Qualified

  1. Complete Online Interest Form

    Housing Trust staff will contact you within 3 business days to begin pre-qualification.

    Fill out form

  2. Attend Homebuyer Education

    All borrowers (including non-borrowing spouses) must attend a HUD-certified Homebuyer Education through an in-person or online class from a designated agency

    Check out the list of approved homebuyer education providers

  3. Receive Pre-approval Letter from a Participating Lender

    Housing Trust works with all approved California-licensed lenders

  4. Eligibility Application

    With lender pre-approval, complete a Program Eligibility Application and contact Housing Trust staff for an appointment

    Find a Property

  1. Shop for a home!

    After you receive your program eligibility approval letter.

    Finalize Loan and Complete Purchase

  1. Submit a Purchase Loan Application

    Once your purchase sales agreement has been ratified, work with your lender to submit a Purchase Loan Application.

  2. Meet for a Counseling Session

    Once approved, meet with Housing Trust for 1 on 1 counseling session

  3. Close on your new home, move in and enjoy!

Additional Program Resources