Undocumented immigrants in California could take a new path to homeownership

(Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press)

Undocumented immigrants in California could take a new path to homeownership

Immigration and the border

Karen Garcia

February 27, 2024

Undocumented immigrants could find a new path to the American dream of owning a home.

Assembly Member Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) last month introduced Assembly Bill 1840 to expand the eligibility requirement for a government loan program to clarify that starter loans are available to undocumented immigrants.

The California Dream for All Shared Appreciation Loans program, launched last March by the California Housing Finance Agency, offered qualified first-time homebuyers a loan worth up to 20% of the purchase price of a home or condominium. The loans bear no interest and require no monthly payments. Instead, when the mortgage is refinanced or the home is resold, the borrower repays the original loan amount plus 20% of the increase in home value.

The original program was created in an effort to help low- and middle-income people buy a home, but the program does not address eligibility based on immigration status, Arambula said.

“It’s that ambiguity for undocumented people, despite the fact that they qualify based on existing criteria, like having a qualified mortgage,” he said in an interview. “Underlines the urgent need for us to introduce legislation.”

They make almost $200,000. Can they afford to have children in SoCal?

If passed, Assembly Bill 1840 would broaden the definition of “first-time homebuyer” to include undocumented immigrants.

Without explicit status, undocumented people may become discouraged or excluded from the opportunity to participate, Arambula said.

“Homeownership has historically been the primary means of accumulating generational wealth in the United States,” he said. “The social and economic benefits of homeownership should be available to everyone.”

The California Dream for All Shared Appreciation Loans program reached its application limit of about 2,300 applicants in 11 days last year and the program was shut down.

This year, the program will replace the first-come, first-served principle with a lottery. Interested parties can submit their applications now, the lottery will take place in April.

Another change to the program is the income eligibility threshold, which was 150% of the average area of ​​a county and has been lowered to 120%. This means that applicants must earn less than the threshold annually to qualify. In Los Angeles County, the income limit is $155,000.


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