Not new, but improved: City program to help Oakland teachers buy homes

For Sale. Image from Ian Muttoo's photostream at flickr.com/creativecommons Until two hours ago, I had not heard of the city’s Downpayment Assistance Program for Oakland teachers and public safety employees.

The decade-old homeowner program hardly has been used by the public employees it was designed to help. In the last five years, a total of three loans have been issued to OUSD teachers — and one to a police officer, according to a recent staff report.

That might change. The city changed the loan terms in late December to make the program more attractive.

The city’s website has yet to be updated, but this Community and Economic Development Agency report provides a good summary of the program — its history, its participation and reasons for adjusting it.

Here are the terms of the program, in a nutshell:

  • The maximum loan amount is now $50,000, up from $20,000.
  • First-time buyers are eligible as long as their household income isn’t above 120 percent of the median for the area.
  • Instead of a 10-year loan with 6 percent interest and payments due starting in Year 6, it’s a 30-year loan with 3 percent interest. Loan repayment is deferred until the house is sold, refinanced or rented, or 30 years has passed.
  • The funding pools for this program and another, the Mortgage Assistance Program, were combined.

Lewis Cohen, Mayor Jean Quan’s education advisor, mentioned to me today that the city started a program about 10 years ago to help teachers buy homes in Oakland. I did a quick online search to see if it was still running, which led me to Jackie Campbell, the homeownership manager for CEDA. Campbell said she wants to spread the word to teachers about the changes.

Of course, the program is partly funded by redevelopment money, which Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed to cut — to provide more funds for schools and other basic services. So we’ll see what happens.

For more info about the Downpayment Assistance Program, you can call (510)238-6201. Here is a brochure with some information about various homebuyer programs.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Anonymous

    No payments are due on the loan until the house is sold or rented or 30 years has passed? So, taxpayers are essentially giving Oakland teachers a gift of $50k to help them buy houses in Oakland? Oh! Well, I’m actually okay with that!

  • Jesse James

    The maximum purchase price of the house is $430,000. For a single teacher that is awesome, for a family of four of five that is a not a reasonable purchase price. 11 years ago when I looked into this program, the house had to be in a low income, low occupancy area. While I understand the thinking, it doesn’t seem very smart.

  • HistoryMan

    It sounds too good to be true. What doesn’t “sound smart” about it Jesse James?

  • Katy Murphy

    I followed up with Jackie Campbell from CEDA with some more questions about the city’s Downpayment Assistance Program. In case you were wondering:

    – There is no maximum home price, unlike other homebuyer assistance programs.
    – The home may be located anywhere in the City of Oakland, not just certain neighborhoods. (Note: Some programs previously had such requirements.)
    – The loan is due in full when the home is resold or refinanced, but no payments must be made before then.

  • CJohnson

    Does anyone know if OUSD classified employees could also participate in this program?

  • Christina A.

    I just spoke to someone in the DAP offices who informed me that the Jerry Brown cuts have relinquished the funds from this program, hopefully temporarily, with the office staff given layoff notices. I was told to check back in Februrary–this is an excellent program and I would love to take advantage! If anyone has more information to share about this situation, please let me know.