The Housing Trust Fund of Santa Barbara County is pleased to announce a $10,000 grant award from The Towbes Foundation to support expansion of the agency’s successful Workforce Homebuyer Program to the South Coast.

“The Housing Trust Fund appreciates the vision and leadership of The Towbes Foundation in supporting the affordable home ownership needs of the next generation of workers who provide our communities with essential services in education, health care, public safety, private industry, government and nonprofits,” HTF board chairman Roger L. Horton said.

HTF currently operates a North County Workforce Homebuyer Program that provides down payment loans to help local employees purchase a home in the community where they work. The goal of the Housing Trust Fund is to raise an additional $2.25 million in investment capital and $150,000 in annual program support to create a South Coast program that will fund an initial 30 down-payment loans for workforce homebuyers. HTF plans to grow the program over time.

Recent home price devaluation and low interest rates present a unique window of opportunity for local working families to become homeowners. However, working families often lack the substantial down payment needed to purchase a home in our expensive housing market, which is why Towbes Foundation support of our Workforce Homebuyer Program is so important. Moreover, FHA mortgage insurance costs for nonconventional financing (less than 20 percent down) have tripled and stay the life of the mortgage, making it more difficult for homebuyers to qualify for a mortgage. The South County Workforce Homebuyer Program will provide low-cost down payment loans ranging from $50,000 to $100,000 to enable workforce homebuyers earning 120 percent to 200 percent of Area Median Income to obtain conventional financing and purchase an entry-level home.

Santa Barbara County is the fifth least affordable small metropolitan housing market in the nation, according to the National Association of Home Builders in 2013. In 2013, only 26 percent of county households can afford to purchase the median-priced single-family home compared to 44 percent statewide, based on the traditional housing affordability index (California Association of Realtors). The Workforce Homebuyer Program will help expand homeownership opportunities to attract and retain the next generation of quality employees needed to create sustainable economic growth and vibrant communities in the South Coast region.

HTF is a countywide nonprofit financing agency that works to maintain the socio-economic fabric of Santa Barbara County by addressing the fundamental building block of healthy communities: housing that is affordable to local workers and residents.

For more information, contact Jennifer McGovern, president and CEO of The Housing Trust Fund of Santa Barbara County, by phone at 805.685.1949 or by email at

— Jennifer McGovern is president and CEO of The Housing Trust Fund of Santa Barbara County.