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Program paving path to homeownership for Sacramento first-time buyers of color

People who are accepted into the program will receive $15,000 in forgivable home loans and $1,500 towards credit debt or closing costs.

SACRAMENTO, California — A new service is aiming to make dreams of homeownership a reality for first-time home buyers. 

Applications are currently open for the CLTRE Keeper First-Time Home Buyer Program, an 8-week program designed for low-income households in Sacramento to be equipped with the knowledge and financial resources they need to achieve their goal of homeownership. 

The program will accept 25 participants, who will receive $15,000 in forgivable home loans and a $1,500 "flex amount," which can go towards any credit debt or closing costs. The eight-week program will also include courses that cover topics ranging from understanding different types of mortgages and saving for a down payment to shopping for the right realtor. Participants will also spend time with financial coaches and other nonprofit organizations that can provide further support. 

The program, led the nonprofit organization CLTRE, is funded by the City of Sacramento to offer support to underserved communities around the Aggie Square project. 

"More around the Oak Park area, a lot of people were displaced. So they're trying to mitigate that this time so homeowners in the community that Aggie Square is coming into can benefit off of the amenities that are coming," said Ashley Garner, the CLTRE Keeper Program director. 

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Participants must live within the following zip codes: 95817, 95820, 95824 and 95828. They must also have a gross annual income at or below 80% of the local Area Median Income (AMI). While the program is open to everyone under those qualifications, Garner said there's an emphasis on reaching entrepreneurs of color. That's because Black and Latin and/or Hispanic communities face larger barriers to homeownership. 

"Mortgage denial rates are disproportionately higher in the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) community versus their white counterparts," said Garner. According to 2022 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data, on average, 14.44% of Black homebuyers are denied a mortgage, higher than the average denial rate of 9.14% among the overall population. 

Garner said many people in BIPOC communities also come from generational renters, which makes them feel less confident about homeownership. 

"I've noticed in the BIPOC communities, when it's time to take that step, if you've never had someone in your family that's done it before, you're not going to know what to do, and you might shun it off," said Garner. "We're trying to open up those doors to make people comfortable to come in and ask those questions and have a support system that can get them over the bridge to homeownership." 

Through the program, Garner hopes to change the narrative for those who may have never considered the possibility of owning a home. 

"We hope to have sustainable homeowners in the communities that they are actually from... and (who) can build wealth because it's a right. And that's not really a conversation that's had in BIPOC communities," said Garner. 

The deadline to apply for the program is Sept. 6. If you're interested, you can apply HERE

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