Santa Clara County

Program Helps First-Time Buyers Afford to Live in Bay Area

Santa Clara County's down payment assistance program has made it possible for buyers to purchase their first homes.

The first eight homeowners to buy under the program have moved into their new homes. Ten more are in the process of buying. Twelve applications are being processed.

The county's goal is to help up to 200 first-time buyers in the county within the next five years.

The "Empower Homebuyers" program aims to help low-income and middle-income buyers with a down payment loan payable when the home is sold, refinanced or at the end of the 30-year term.

The program's fund can provide assistance of up to 17% of the down payment for a home priced at $800,000 or less. Buyers must make no more than 120% of median income, which in Santa Clara County is $150,000 per year for a family of four. The buyer must contribute at least 3% of the down payment.

A part of voter-passed Measure A created the down payment assistance program. Measure A also generated funds to house the homeless and to build affordable housing in the county.

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