Clovis News

7 Valley cities get housing funds

Seven Valley cities are getting $800,000 grants for housing programs to benefit first-time homebuyers, housing renovation or rental assistance.

The grants, federal money awarded by the state through its HOME program, will benefit residents in Clovis, Madera, Huron, Parlier, Dinuba, Corcoran and Avenal.

Clovis will use the money to assist first-time homebuyers, said Andy Haussler, the city's housing program manager.

It's the first time in 10 years Clovis has had money to loan first-time homebuyers, who don't pay interest and don't have to repay the loan until other loans are repaid or the house sells, he said.

The city's previous first-time homebuyer program ended when the money ran out, Haussler said.

Money is available to a family of four earning $44,650 or less per year. If a family can qualify for a conventional loan that partly pays for a home, the city can step in with a second loan to make up the difference. Haussler expects the city to make six home loans.

Clovis plans to create a revolving loan fund with money repaid by homeowners, which will be used to help other potential homeowners, he said.

The HOME program funds are in addition to neighborhood stabilization dollars that several cities -- including Parlier, Madera, Clovis and Firebaugh -- received earlier this year and that are aimed at reducing the number of foreclosed homes. Under that program, a family of four earning about $66,900 can qualify to buy a foreclosed home.

Madera will direct its $800,000 grant to its first-time homebuyers program.

When the grant was written, Madera officials expected to assist 15 prospective homeowners, said Daniel Abdella, the city's grants administrator.

But "since the grant was written, real estate values have fallen, so we may be able to help more people," he said.

The city will be using only 30-year fixed loans, Abdella said.

Nearly all homes purchased in Madera are either foreclosures or "short sales," so the grant money helps stabilize neighborhoods and place people in homes, Abdella said.

Other cities divided their money into pots for first-time homebuyers, housing rehabilitation or rental assistance.

Parlier will use $325,000 for homebuyers and an equal amount for owner-occupied rehabilitation. An additional $150,000 will be used for rental assistance.

Patricia Barboza, Parlier's finance director, said the city can financially assist more people to provide money for rent assistance.

"If we only helped first-time homebuyers and owner-occupied [rehabilitation], only a few people would get the benefit," she said. "A lot of people lost their income or are unemployed, so this could be a big help for them."