Program lets veterans get their own homes

By January 23, 2019 Media Coverage

NEW HOMES — This is an artist concept of one the homes planned for the Palmdale Vet­er­an Enriched Neighborhood, a 56-home development for low-income veterans and their families being built by Homes 4 Families.

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.

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