Down payment assistance program for Tahoe workers opens today
Published July 12, 2021
Workers in the North Lake Tahoe region struggling to afford a home can now apply for a new program to help make their housing dreams come true.
Placer County’s new Workforce Housing Preservation Program begins accepting applications today at https://www.placer.ca.gov/whpp, offering cash assistance for qualified buyers in exchange for deed restricting their properties so that only local workers can purchase or rent them. The funding can help homebuyers with down payments or complete renovations.
Guidelines for the new program were approved by the county Board of Supervisors in February, allowing a soft launch of the program to proceed this year in eastern Placer County.
The program is modeled on Vail, Colorado’s, InDEED program - developed in response to rising housing costs and limited housing availability for local workers. Vails’s housing challenges are similar to eastern Placer County, where almost 90% of homes are owned by second homeowners. Since its inception in 2017, Vail has secured local housing by purchasing deed restrictions on more than 140 units, and the program has since been replicated in the towns of Frisco and Breckenridge, Colorado.
Placer’s Workforce Housing Preservation Program has two components – one for eastern Placer County modeled more closely after Vail’s and the other for the entire county to allow housing developers to fund deed restrictions as another option to satisfy their affordable housing obligations.
Placer will only accept applications from eastern county local workers in this initial opening phase of the program, with limited initial funding available.
At full implementation, Placer plans to buy 50 new deed restrictions a year - 40 in eastern Placer and 10 in the unincorporated county - at an expected cost of $3 million annually.
“Our housing challenges in eastern Placer County are tougher than I’ve ever seen them and our Workforce Housing Preservation Program is an important new tool to help increase the supply of quality housing for the families who live and work here,” said District 5 Supervisor Cindy Gustafson. “By helping local families make an investment in their future we’re helping them make an investment in our community’s future, too.”
In eastern Placer County, where housing costs are especially high in its tourism-driven economy, applicants must make equal to or less than 245% of the average median income to quality for a single-family unit, or 220% for a multi-family unit - about $223,000 and $200,000 for a family of four, respectively. Applicants must also work an average of at least 30 hours a week at an employment site within the geographical boundaries of the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District to qualify.
Deed restriction payments will be decided on a case-by-case basis with each application. All participants must qualify for and secure independent financing for the home purchase. In all cases, deed restrictions will remain in place for 55 years, with the 55-year term renewing upon each sale or transfer of the home.
The Placer County Board of Supervisors has approved $250,000 in initial program funding from the county general fund and a $250,000 allocation of transient occupancy tax revenue that had been reserved for housing and transportation. County staff anticipate the program will eventually operate as a public-private partnership, with area employers and other organizations also impacted by the housing crisis helping to fund it.