Habitat for Humanity in Stanislaus County will have an extra $505,000 to spend this year, thanks to a deal with the California Housing Finance Agency.
The state housing agency announced Monday that it will purchase about 17 mortgages owned by Habitat for Human- ity in the county. That will free up the charity's assets so it can help additional low-end families build their own homes.
"We're going to have more cash on hand, so it gives us an opportunity to do more," said Anita Hellam, the group's executive director. The charity loans money at zero-percent interest to first-time home buyers who help build their own homes.
The mortgages being purchase by the state will keep the same loan terms, but rather than homeowners repaying Habitat for Humanity, they will repay the state.
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Since 2005, the California housing authority has agreed to buy 116 mortgages worth $8 million from Habitat for Humanity statewide.
By getting the state to buy those $505,000 in Stanislaus County loans, Hellam said, her organization will be able to expand the number of homes it builds in west Modesto's so-called Hope Village.
Hope Village, near Paradise Road and Martin Luther King Drive, eventually will include 20 houses on small lots. Hellam said construction on the first six homes was expected to start this year, but now they'll be able to start building 10 of those homes.
By doing most of their own construction, Hellam said, Hope Village homeowners will be able to buy four-bedroom, 1,200-square-foot homes for under $125,000. The selection process is under way for families who will be able to build there.
"We're still looking for 16 families for Hope Village," Hellam said. To qualify, homeowners must be U.S. citizens with good credit and good work histories. Only low-income families buying their first homes can participate, and they must agree to work 500 hours building homes.
Stanislaus County families interested in applying can call 575-4585, ext. 100, for more information.
Habitat for Humanity also is shopping for empty lots to build on elsewhere in the county.
"Our goal is to acquire 75 lots before the end of the year. That would be enough to last us four or five years," Hellam said. She said her organization is willing to pay up to $50,000 per finished lot. "We're looking for property that is ready for us to jump in and start building on."
Hellam said her group is willing to build the same floor plans that exist in new home subdivisions so that Habitat houses would blend into the neighborhoods.
Landowners interested in selling lots to Habitat for Human- ity can call Hellam at 575-4585, ext. 105.
Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2196.