What should house-hunters in Orange County do if they need homeowner assistance programs? Not all Orange County cities offer such help; Laguna Hills, for example, offers some services to assist the homeless but nothing (at press time) for new home buyers or first-time homeowners.
What follows are examples of programs offered in certain Orange County cities. You may wish to search for an equivalent for your city, but remember that such options are not standardized state-wide. Some cities don’t have their own programs but participate instead with larger county-wide projects.
Some of the assistance listed here is meant for those buying their first home, other programs may be offered to help make owning those homes more affordable once the loan closes.
The programs you see here are offered by local governments; you will need to find the city government’s official site for the zip code you wish to purchase in order to apply.
The BEGIN program is for low-to-moderate-income borrowers who need down payment assistance. This is offered as a deferred second mortgage and you may qualify if you meet the following requirements:
- Must be a first-time homebuyer
- The household income of the applicant may not exceed 120% of Orange County area median income, adjusted by household size
- Must meet income limits set by the State of California, Housing and Community Development
- Applicants may not have net household assets in excess of 20% of median home prices for Orange County
- Applicants must credit qualify
The following also apply:
- The borrower must make a minimum 3% down-payment
- The borrower may not own investment property or second home at time of application or purchase
- Borrower and property must meet “standard underwriting criteria”
The Aliso Viejo official site directs those seeking homeowner assistance to the statewide California Mortgage Relief Program. You may qualify for this program, regardless of city, if:
- The household income of all household members over the age of 18 is at or below 150% of the Area Median Income
- The homeowner must own and occupy the property
- The homeowner can only own one property
- The homeowner must attest that they experienced a Qualified Financial Hardship after January 21, 2020
- The homeowner must have at least two payments past-due by June 30, 2022
- For mortgage relief, the past-due amount must be $80,000 or less at application time
This city offers an affordable housing program in the form of a local ordinance requiring developers to offer at least 10% of their new units for sale as affordable housing. That basically means homes are offered at below-market prices for those who qualify with income (household income limits apply) and a waiting list is typical.
When buying a home under this program there is a clause in your purchase contract stating that if you sell the unit within 45 years, the city of Brea is entitled to profit-sharing on the sale.
The City of Buena Park offers deferred home improvement loans to qualified homeowners. Income limits and maximum loan amounts apply, and these loans feature 1% interest for up to 30 years. If you are interested in this program you should fill out a pre-application form available at the City of Buena Park official site or call the office of Economic Development.
The Costa Mesa Housing and Community Development uses state grants and other funding to pay for its affordable housing projects in the area, but also to help a small group of eligible homeowners each year with single-family rehab loans and grants for fixing building code violations, remediating lead paint, and other issues.
One loan program has offered up to $50,000 for such rehab/renovation work for single-family residences. A similar program offers a grant instead of a loan for up to approximately $17,000.
The Cypress Home Enhancement Loan Program is a home improvement assistance program for qualifying low-income homeowners with primary residences in Cypress. This program offers a 10-year forgivable home improvement loan for up to $20k for qualifying projects. These must be approved in order of priority:
- Health, Safety, and General Welfare repairs
- Exterior Improvements designed to enhance “curb appeal”
- Improvements that “enhance community property values”
To qualify for these loans, the owner must have a single-family, detached residence. Rental property and mobile homes are not eligible for this program. Income restrictions apply. You cannot have “liquid assets in excess of $50,000” and your total debt cannot be higher than the home’s appraised value. The loan is forgivable over time, and is completely forgiven in 10 years.
The City of Dana Point official site does have a housing page on its official site, but at press time does not advertise services related to homeownership. The site directs visitors to contact the city directly for “guidance and resources” for low to moderate-income families who need housing help.
The City of Fountain Valley has operated a first-time home buyer program in the past, but at press time that program is not available.
Garden Grove participates in the statewide CalHOME program but does not offer first-time home buyer program assistance on the local level. It does feature a small Home Improvement program offering up to $5k for repairs to correct building code violations, improve health and safety, etc. The repairs can include:
- Exterior painting
- Window replacement
- Heating/air conditioning
- Accessibility features such as a wheelchair ramp, grab bars, and walk-in showers
The City of Huntington Beach offers an Inclusionary Housing program aimed at low-to-moderate-income buyers. The homes bought and sold under this program “must be purchased by an eligible buyer and the price of the home must fall within an affordable price limit” as determined by the City of Huntington Beach.
Property values and other market conditions are not used to set the sale prices on these homes. Under the program, Huntington Beach places a lien on the property for the duration of the “affordability period”. These homes cannot be rented out to others, must be owner-occupied, and other restrictions may apply.
The City of Irvine directs house hunters looking for assistance to statewide programs like the California Housing Finance Agency and the Affordable Housing Orange County program.
The City of La Habra directs house hunters to statewide programs such as Neighborworks of Orange County or the OC Housing & Community Development Mortgage Assistance Program.
The City of La Palma does not administer its own homeowner assistance programs, referring buyers instead to the Affordable Housing Clearinghouse MAP program which operates under contract with Orange County Housing and Community Services.
The City of Laguna Beach participates in Orange County programs such as those offered by Orange County Community Services. These programs may include loan funds offered to qualifying low-to-moderate income borrowers who need to repair their homes. Laguna Beach also refers buyers and homeowners to the CalHome Program, with its state-wide improvement option offering grants and mortgage assistance to qualifying first-time buyers.
At press time, the City of Laguna Hills offers no homeowner assistance programs on its official site.
At press time, the City of Laguna Niguel offers no homeowner assistance programs on its official site.
At press time, the City of Laguna Woods offers no homeowner assistance programs on its official site.
The City of Lake Forest refers house hunters to state-wide programs such as those administered by the Orange County Housing Authority. It does offer a housing rehab loan in the form of a zero percent deferred interest loan along with a three percent amortized interest loan. Income qualifications including total household income limits may apply.
The zero percent (0%) interest deferred loan features a monthly payment of zero. The 3% interest loan requires monthly payments and is offered as a 15-year loan. These loans are for owner-occupiers only and there must be sufficient equity in the home.
The Los Alamitos official site (at press time) has no links for housing assistance programs offered by the city.
At press time, the City of Mission Viejo does not feature homeowner assistance programs on its official site.
The City of Newport Beach does not, at press time, offer housing assistance programs. It refers buyers and house hunters to the California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Newport Beach did adopt inclusionary housing policies in 2022 that require developers to set aside a certain portion of new housing to offer as affordable homes.
The City of Orange does not offer housing assistance options on its official site at press time.
While Placentia does not list housing assistance services on its official site, it does offer a neighborhood improvement program for low-income applicants. The City of Placentia Neighborhood Services Division offers grants for exterior repairs to qualifying primary residences. The funds can be used for the following purposes:
- Roof repair
- Roof replacement
- ADA ramps
- Other accessibility upgrades
- Exterior painting and repairs
- Exterior access improvements
- Graffiti removal
Some programs exclude mobile homes, but this one does not. Approved repairs for mobile or manufactured housing may include:
- Roof repair or replacement
- Exterior siding
- Exterior painting and repairs
- Graffiti removal
- Exterior accessibility improvements
The City of Rancho Santa Margarita does not advertise housing assistance programs on its official site. Instead, it refers buyers to the state-wide and county-wide programs mentioned elsewhere above including those offered by CalHFA.
The City of San Clemente offers home improvement loans to single-family owner-occupiers. This is a deferred, zero-percent loan up to $25K offered to those who meet household income limits. Up to $15K is offered to those who seek improvements for a mobile home or manufactured home.
These loans are due in full when the owner sells or transfers the property.
Grants may also be available for qualifying applicants. These loans and grants are for those who occupy the home, meet income restrictions, and asset limits.
There are no housing assistance programs listed on the city’s official site at press time.
In 2022, the City of Santa Ana announced a .2 million expansion of its down payment assistance program, My First Home, to further assist first-time homebuyers achieve the dream of homeownership within Santa Ana. This down payment assistance program (up to $120K) is offered to qualifying first-time home buyers who meet the following criteria:
- A first-time home buyer or someone who has not owned a principal residence in the last three years
- Homeowner education courses are required
- Contribute three percent (3%) of the purchase price for the down payment
- Must be pre-qualified
- Positive credit history
- Co-signers are not permitted
- Adjustable-rate loans are not allowed
Household income limits may apply.
At press time, the City of Seal Beach lists no housing assistance programs on its official site.
At press time, the City of Stanton does not list housing assistance programs on its official site.
The City of Tustin does not offer homeownership assistance programs at press time.
The City of Villa Park does not offer homeownership assistance programs at press time.
The City of Westminster does not offer homeownership assistance programs at press time.
The City of Yorba Linda offers a Mortgage Assistance Program (MAP) to qualifying low-to-moderate income applicants seeking primary residences within the city. These MAP loans are silent second mortgages, offered as zero-interest mortgages up to $50K.
These loans are declared payable when the home is sold or no longer used as a primary residence. No investment properties are allowed.
Yorba Linda MAP loans are forgivable after 15 years provided all loan program requirements such as residency are met. Those who sell or transfer the home within the first 15 years must repay the MAP loan in full. Applying for this program does not guarantee funding, and you will be required to be approved for the home loan in addition to the MAP loan to claim these funds.
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