This article was originally published on Antelope Valley Press by Allison Gatlin, Valley Press Staff Writer on January 20, 2019. Click here to view the original article.
PALMDALE — The houses are not yet built, but the nonprofit Homes 4 Families is accepting applications from qualified veterans for the 56-home community planned at Division Street and Avenue R.
Low-income U.S. veterans of any age, any service branch, and any era can qualify for the two- and three-bedroom homes with low- or no-interest loans. Homeowners will pay no more than 30% of their monthly income towards their mortgage, taxes, insurance and homeowners association dues.
“It’s based around the idea of self-sufficiency. They own the home, they own the land beneath them,” said Bridgett Mills, Homes 4 Families senior director of project design and urban planning.
The organization conducted an informational meeting Friday to help familiarize local veterans and officials with the housing program.
The project is a joint effort with Homes 4 Families, the city and the California Department of Veterans Affairs.
For those qualifying, CalVet offers low-interest loans of up to $160,000 that are not available through other lenders, Mills said.
Additionally, the city offers a $50,000 zero-interest loan for each house that does not have to be paid back for 45 years.
Beyond that, Homes 4 Families offers zero-interest loans to cover the remaining costs. “Ours is the leftovers,” Mills said.
Homes 4 Families strives to help applicants meet the loan requirements, working to overcome whatever obstacles may prevent them from being accepted until they can meet the qualifications, said Cesar Villavicencio, housing, and financial counselor.
If accepted, a $100 down payment is necessary to secure the home and home buyers are required to contribute 500 hours in “sweat equity” to the project. This may entail working on the construction of the homes themselves as well as time spent in workshops on topics such as financial literacy, home ownership and maintenance, and trauma-informed care.
“This is so that you have an investment in your community, in your home,” Mills said.
The workshops also help build a supportive community for residents, as do partnerships with other local organizations for programming such as providing community mentors.
The two-bedroom houses are $220,000, and the three-bedroom versions are $250,000.
All are single-story and feature two full bathrooms, attached garages and solar panels, and include features or modifications for American with Disabilities Act accessibility and to address other specific needs of the veteran community. This includes LED lighting to avoid the buzzing of fluorescent lights that can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury symptoms, higher electrical plugs to avoid the need to bend to the floor and an open floor plan in the living areas.
“We’ve had veterans tell us they like to see everything,” Mills said.
The neighborhood will feature a tot lot for children, a community garden, and outdoor common areas. Each home will also have small side and backyards, Mills said.
Grading has begun at the site, just north of Avenue R on the east side of Division Street, and organizers expect to have the first phase ready for occupancy within about 18 months, Mills said.
The project will be built in phases, with full build-out expected in about three to four years.
The first six homebuyers have qualified so far for the project, Mills said.
“We’re ready to hit the ground running now,” she said.
Homes 4 Families is finishing a similar 78-home veterans housing project in Santa Clarita and has previous projects in Sylmar and Pacoima that were not strictly for veterans.
For details on qualifications or to apply, contact Cesar Villavicencio at 818-884-8808, Ext. 210, or cvillavicencio@Homes4Families.org.
To share your opinion on this article or any other article, write a letter to the editor and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to Letters to Editor, PO Box 4050, Palmdale CA 93590-4050.