The Housing Trust Fund of Santa Barbara County (HTF) announced on Wednesday, June 9, that it has been awarded a grant of $1.2 million dollars from the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) through the Local Housing Trust Fund Program (LHTFP). The grant, one of nine given statewide from a pool of $16,250,000 in LHTFP grants, will support the HTF in their efforts to boost low-to-moderate income homebuyers in Santa Barbara County, and also encourage the advancement of affordable rental projects.

The majority of the grant, $840,000, will be allocated in the form of first-time homebuyer down-payment loans — up to $45,000 per household — to help families in the low-to-moderate income bracket acquire a home in their area. The program helps homebuyers overcome the down-payment hurdle, deferring payment for 30 years and requiring only 3 percent of the home’s value to be paid upfront; an amount that is crucial to forging a sense of commitment to a home, but a far cry from the 20 percent standard in many banks. The remaining $360,000 will go toward those who earn less than 35 percent of the Area Median Income, developing affordable housing for these individuals throughout the county.

Even with additional opportunities for funding, the practicality of purchasing a home in Santa Barbara County on a low-moderate income remains debatable. According to Jennifer McGovern, president and CEO of HTF, this is especially true of the South County, and is the reason for the program’s attention on the north, where home values have fallen considerably. However, McGovern states that this “does not preclude” spending funds elsewhere. As financial logistics continue to be smoothed out, HTF is working in conjunction with community lenders to determine eligibility for the program. Applicants must fall within the income guidelines, be pre-approved for a first mortgage, and enroll in a homebuyers’ education course. If all requirements are met, homebuyers may apply for assistance in purchasing a single-family home, condominium, or certain mobile homes beginning as soon as late summer.

The recent grant is a crucial step for HTF in its goal of expanding affordable housing throughout Santa Barbara County. HTF is dedicated to forging partnerships with lenders, preserving the essential quality of local community, and looking toward the enduring affordability of housing in Santa Barbara County. For McGovern, this grant marks progress toward even further expansion of countywide financing, and one she is “thrilled to be launching as a pilot effort.”


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