Home ownership may be easier to achieve for all Los Alamos residents, not just ones with high incomes, due to Los Alamos County Council unanimously approving an ordinance to establish an Affordable Homebuyer Assistance Program.
Council approved the ordinance during Tuesday’s regular meeting in Council Chambers.
Here’s how the program will work: The County, or its designee, will originate deferred payment loans directly to low income households and very low income households in accordance with the requirements of the program’s rules and regulations.
For very low income families, or individuals who earn less than 50 percent of the Los Alamos County median income, the program will provide 0 percent deferred payment loans from County funds. Low income families, or those who earn less than 80 percent of the County median income, will be given interest bearing deferred payment loans up to a maximum program subsidy of $25,000 per property.
County Housing and Special Project Manager Andrew Harnden explained that the median income in Los Alamos is $111,076 as stated in the County’s Comprehensive Plan. As a result, the income cut off for the program for a family four would be $84,100.
The County subsidy will only be provided to applicants who are determined eligible and approved to participate in the program. A loan review committee will provide review and analysis for all applications selected for approval.
“I’m very excited about this program,” said Councilor Chris Chandler, who motioned to approve the ordinance.
Chandler added she hopes the staff evaluates the Homebuyer Assistance Program at end of the year to make sure it is working and is well utilized. If it isn’t, Chandler hoped staff would look at the program’s policies and procedures to see if anything needs to be tweaked. “I’m totally psyched about this,”Chandler added.
Vice Chair Susan O’Leary seconded the motion, saying, “I’m also a big fan of this program,” and pointing out that the Affordable Housing Program helps the Council fulfill some of its top strategic goals. “I hope this program is hugely successful,” O’Leary said.
Councilor Sheehey commented, “I too enthusiastically support this program.” He pointed out that currently the county has a shortage of housing supply and that there is an issue with lower-priced housing needing fixing up. He recommended staff consider helping multi-housing units such as duplexes and quads qualify for mortgages for separate units. Sheehey said that may help with the housing issues.
Council Chair David Izraelevitz pointed out that the housing program will not only benefit homeowners but also neighbors as it will help raise homes’ values.