Posts Tagged ‘housing’

Santa Barbara County, California Falls Short of Affordable Housing Needs

September 13th, 2011

A recent assessment of affordable housing availability in Santa Barbara County, California revealed that the county has a long way to go in meeting the needs of its low-income residents. And the current economic crisis is making matters worse.

Santa Barbara has less than 1,000 affordable housing units, and a waiting list of between 4,000 and 5,000 families who can’t afford market-rate homes. The list is so long that it was officially closed in July of 2009, which means there may be more families out there in need of affordable housing who have even fewer options than those on the waiting list.

An estimated 700 of the 1,000 affordable units are located in the north, leaving very few options for low-income residents elsewhere. Santa Barbara County’s cost of living is high, but many of its residents work in lower-paying agriculture and service-industry jobs, creating a significant disparity between what housing costs and what people can afford.

The county’s housing shortfall is exacerbated by an expected $60 to $90 million budget gap this year, putting development incentive programs at risk of being reduced or outright eliminated. Those incentives are often necessary in order for projects that include affordable housing to be financially viable.

The county’s Housing and Community Development Department administers several programs aimed at making housing more accessible.

- It awards HOME Program grants to developers interested in building or refurbishing low-income rental units.
- It also offers mortgage assistance for first-time home-buyers.
- The Department’s Homeless Program provides both transitional and permanent housing opportunities for homeless families and individuals.
- In addition, it has formed the Santa Barbara Urban County Partnership, which receives Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) aimed at eliminating blight in severely distressed neighborhoods, and encouraging comprehensive development of housing, transportation and infrastructure.
- The county also provides technical assistance to affordable housing developers through its Grants Administration Division staff, and
- all CHCD staff is made available to make presentation or attend meetings in an effort to educate those interested in providing community development or affordable housing services.

Santa Barbara County has a total of five Housing Market Areas (HMAs), and affordable housing availability is an issue in most of them. The above-mentioned programs are on-going, and funding for most of them is renewed annually.

This latest assessment, however, makes it clear that Santa Barbara County’s efforts are not reducing the need for low-income housing. Though the county is aware of its housing needs, no plan to address the problem is forthcoming. Developers and other affordable housing advocates are encouraged to share ideas and plans with the county’s Housing Authority.

Rural Housing Services Loans- Three Things To Know

September 13th, 2011

The Rural Housing Service or RHS was created in the mid 1990s, so rural America could have their housing development needs met. The RHS program helps rural families and individuals become homeowners.

What A Rural Housing Services Loan Is

The RHS can help you buy or repair a home, if you’re a low- to moderate-income rural resident. The RHS program can help you buy property without paying a down payment and with only a small amount of closing costs.

The RHS program does not supply money for rural homeowner loans. Instead, they insure the loan, in case you would default. By insuring the loan, the lender has less of a risk by lending you money, so they can offer you a loan with no down payment and with little closing costs.

How You Qualify

You can contact your state’s Rural Development Office directly to apply for RHS assistance. Or your lender can help you apply for an RHS loan. The RHS will insure your rural mortgage only if your earnings are less than 115 percent of the Area Median Family Income. RHS loans are typically for terms of 33 or 38 years. The other major qualification for obtaining an RHS loan is that you must currently be without adequate housing and you must be unable to get credit for a home loan anywhere else. At the same time, you must have a reasonable credit history.

The Direct Loan Program

The RHS also offers a Direct Loan program to those who have extraordinarily low income levels. This program allows you to borrow directly from the RHS at a favorable interest rate. Your income level must be less than 50 percent of the Area Median Income. No down payment is required, but in order to qualify for a mortgage you will have to be able to afford your payments as determined by the RHS.