Home Front

A blog about the economy and the Sacramento-area real estate market.

April 29, 2009
Big Chill thaws at CalHFA
Steve Spears acting executive director of California Housing Finance Agency, let the cat out of the bag about 90 minutes ago while addressing a luncheon crowd at Housing California's annual convention: We're back, he said.
CalHFA - the state's affordable housing bank and lender of last resort for many buyers - shut down key assistance programs for home buyers in December due to the state's crippling budget standoff. Spears told the crowd of affordable housing specialists that the agency has now restarted a key grant program to help buyers of new homes pay mandatory school facility fees. Formally, it's known as the School Facility Fee Down Payment Assistance Program.

The next announcement drew a round of applause at the convention center. In May, CalHFA will bring back its popular down payment assistance loans for first-time home buyers. (That's called the California Homebuyers Downpayment Assistance program, the one where homeowners don't have to pay back the loan until the house is sold, refinanced or paid off.).

"We're able to do this following last week's sale of general obligation bonds," Spears said.

 Last week the state sold $6.85 billion in bonds that officials said will jump-start 5,000 public works projects and several housing programs.

The CalHFA programs being restarted are funded by the $2.1 billion Proposition 46 passed by voters in 2002 and the $2.85 billion Proposition 1C passed in 2006. Both fund affordable housing and development in existing neighborhoods.

Spears said "in the near future" the agency also aims to bring back a fixed-rate 30-year mortgage product. "We are tired of being on the sidelines," he said. "We want to be back in the game."

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