City offers home help

December 24, 2002 12:00 am

By JASON ECK

Low-income Sonora residents who dream of owning their own homes might be eligible for financial help through a city program that has received another round of funding.

The City of Sonora's Homebuyer's Assistance Program has helped 23 families buy homes since 1998 with the help of two $300,000 federal grants.

The city in August received a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant to keep the program going, said Rachelle Kellogg, grants and redevelopment program manager.

The city requested $200,000 more this time to help combat high home prices. Kellogg said the city will be able to loan up to $35,000 to each applicant. The limit was $25,000 in the past. This round of funding should help 13 or 14 families, Kellogg said.

The grant money — federal money processed through the state — is not threatened by the state's $35 billion budget deficit, Kellogg said.

The program provides two types of help. It helps families with cash for loans, origination fees and closing costs, including property taxes and insurance. The program also helps families buy homes by reducing the monthly mortgage payment.

Both parts of the program are available to help eligible families get primary financing from the commercial lender of their choice.

Successful applicants must make less than 80 percent of the county median adjusted income for the number of people living in the home and must meet credit criteria from a commercial lender before getting help from the city. The home must be within the city limits.

Tuolumne County's median income is $41,300 for a family of four.

Interest rates are based on income and household size. People making less than half of Tuolumne County's median income pay no interest at all.

Money is now available. People who think they might qualify should contact the city. Officials have already begun interviewing prospective applicants. The program operates on a first-come, first-served basis.