As the white-hot housing market takes its toll on those looking to purchase a house, the Turlock City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to transition funds originally intended for first time home buyers into more opportunities for local non-profits.
The Council voted to amend its Fiscal Year 2021-2022 Annual Action Plan for the Community Development Block Grant Program, reallocating $100,000 in funding from the First Time Home Buyer Program to the Public Services Grant Program. The transfer of funds nearly doubles the amount of grant money made available to non-profit organizations through a competitive application process for a total of $220,000.
In the past, the Public Services Grant Program has assisted activities such as teen mother services, free food for the low-income residents, cold weather shelter homeless services and gang prevention services at the local elementary schools and high schools. The City of Turlock is a CDBG entitlement jurisdiction funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and all CDBG funds must benefit low to moderate income persons in Turlock.
The reallocation of funds will effectively leave the First Time Home Buyer Program with a balance of $0, Housing Program Supervisor Maria Ramos explained. Due to the current housing market and sky-high prices, families and individuals who are eligible for the First Time Home Buyer Program are still unable to find houses they can afford, rendering the program useless.
Last year, only one family was able to utilize a loan from the program.
“So, what happens is even though we’ve set that money aside, we haven’t used it,” Ramos said.
Income limits for the program which are set by HUD don’t blend well with housing prices right now, Ramos added. The current median price for a home in Turlock is $450,000.
“It's a shame that we don't have a way to help support people getting into that first time home program. This council as a whole, I think we need to come together and develop a comprehensive plan to address the affordability issue that we have with housing,” Councilman Andrew Nosrati said. “...We've got an influx of new money that's very wealthy coming and continuing to wreak havoc in our local community, and so it's absolutely critical that we figure out a way to not let this continue to go down that path.”
The additional funding is expected to be available on or before Nov. 1, 2021, and must be expended by June 30, 2022. These grants must be for new programs, and additional points will be provided for those agencies offering programs to seniors or children. For more information on the City’s Public Services Grant Program, visit https://www.cityofturlock.org/housingprograms/publicservicegrants/.