First-time home buyers can now apply for down payment assistance in Alameda County

Applications close on August 30 for a program to help low- and middle-income residents who want to buy their first home. Credit: Amir Aziz

Headlines describing very hot real estate markets, vicious bid wars and record-breaking East Bay home prices can bring despair to anyone, not to mention someone aspiring to buy their first home.

While home buying remains a competitive sport in the Bay Area, first-time buyers in Alameda County can now apply for help that could put that first-time purchase within reach.

Applications are now open until August 30 for the latest round of AC Boost funds. The program began after voters in Alameda County passed Measure A1, a 2016 affordable housing bond that includes $ 50 million down payment. The program aims to give potential low and middle income buyers a chance in a market where cash buyers and investors often dominate.

This round, the county will distribute loans of up to $ 210,000 each, to up to 70 households, for a total of $ 12 million.

“AC Boost opens up the opportunity for more working households to build equity in their homes, to put down roots in the community, and to have a place their families can call home for years to come.” Keith Carson, chairman of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, said in a press release.

The loans are zero rate and do not require payment for the 30 year term.

To be eligible for the program, you must meet a few basic criteria. You must currently live or work in Alameda County, or have recently been displaced from it. It must be the first house you own. And you must be earning less than 120% of the region’s median income, which is $ 150,700 for a four-person household, $ 120,550 for two, and $ 105,500 for an individual. (See all eligibility conditions.)

You can complete a short pre-application online before the August 30 deadline, then you will receive a random lottery number determining when you can attend a required workshop and complete a more complete application. Additional preference is given to educators and first responders. Approved applicants have 120 days to enter into a home purchase contract.

Program administrators say AC Boost is designed to remove systemic barriers to buying a home for communities of color, including racist lending practices that have contributed to a significant racial wealth gap locally and to across the United States.

“Discriminatory practices in housing and access to credit have opened the door for some families to accumulate intergenerational wealth, while completely excluding others,” said Jennifer Duffy, president of Hello Housing, a promoter of affordable housing, in a press release. “Many aspiring homebuyers just can’t save enough for a down payment because too much of their paycheck is spent on rent. ”

There are also ways for lenders, real estate agents, and sellers to participate in the program. If you are putting your home on the market in Alameda County and want to sell it to a local first-time buyer, you can contact the program to connect with an AC Boost loan recipient.

The city of Oakland also has a homebuyer assistance program, but it is currently on hold, according to the city’s website.

About Matthew R. Dailey

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