January 25, 2002

Home Ownership Gets a Little Easier

Partnership Between County, Local Cities Helps Renters Buy Their Own Homes

A new program sponsored by the County of San Diego and 15 local cities will help families make the jump from renting to home ownership, even if they are short on cash for a down payment or have less than stellar credit.

The San Diego Lease-Purchase program is designed to help as many as 350 local families buy their own home, by reducing the up-front costs needed to make a home purchase and assisting those who need to strengthen their credit rating.

"When we increase the number of home owners in San Diego County, we make our community stronger," said County Supervisor Pam Slater, an early champion of the program. "The lease-purchase program is an excellent example of government helping people help themselves, in this case to buy a home."

Under the program, applicants must demonstrate their ability to make payments on a home with a sales price of $310,000 or less. The program covers their closing costs and provides a low-interest loan for the down payment. The partnership of government agencies actually owns the home for the first 39 months, leasing it back to the family. At the end of that period, ownership of the home reverts to the family, which then assumes the responsibility of making mortgage payments from that point forward.

Applicants for the lease-purchase program must earn a stable income which is less than 140 percent of the median area income, currently $81,760 for a family of four. Participants also must put up a deposit of $1,650 toward certain fees associated with the lease-purchase program. Homes can be purchased inmost areas of the county. Those interested in finding out more about the lease-purchase program can log onto www.ahahousing.com, or call 1-800-591-3111.

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