With the fate of the fledgling Inyo County home buyer Loan program in limbo, local realtors met at the Inyo Mono Title Company Wednesday morning to get an update on the program. Planning Director Pat Cecil and Supervisor Susan Cash explained the difficulties with this program to the crowd that worked to help get this program off the ground in the first place.
Three years ago, the federal government allocated $1 million for qualified Inyo County home buyers. Four $200,000 loans have already been completed and the last loan is expected to go out soon. The question for the supervisors is whether or not to continue with a program that has problems, but does help some people.
The way that the program has worked so far, a person making 80% of the area median income (roughly 50,000 for a family of four), qualifies for up to $200,000 of state distributed federal housing money. The home buyer takes a regular loan on the rest of the cost of a house. When the home buyer pays that loan off to the bank, they then start to pay back the federal loan at a 1% interest rate.
Originally the problem with the Home Loan program was that people with a yearly income that qualified for the loans couldnt afford a home in Inyo County even with an extra $100,000 from the federal government. With the advice from realtors who were trying to make the program work, the supervisors upped the loan amount to $200,000.
With federal rules on the money, even now the program can only help a limited number of people. One member of the audience pointed out that people who have trouble buying groceries are being told that they make too much money to qualify for home loans.
Inyo Planning Director Pat Cecil explained that the state now requires the county front the money for the loans while a property is in escrow and then wait four to eight weeks for the state to reimburse the county.
In cash strapped Inyo County, this means spending up to $200,000 of county money per loan until the state pays the county back.
Supervisor Cash had apparently not decided on the issue yet. She called the program frustrating, but added that just because its hard to do doesnt mean its not worth doing.
The debate on whether or not to continue the home loan program will come up at a future Inyo Supervisors' meeting.