Berkeley City College, or BCC, announced Tuesday a new partnership with Landed, a financial services startup, to assist educators and college employees in buying homes amid the housing crisis in the Bay Area.
Through this partnership with Landed, which aims to provide financial security for professionals, BCC will address one of their employees’ biggest struggles outside of work: making down payments on homes. Applications for the down payment assistance program opened the day of the partnership announcement, according to a BCC press release.
“In an area that is getting more expensive everyday, it means everything that BCC could do something to contribute to our underpaid teachers,” said Max Frincke, BCC student body president, in an email.
According to Frincke, the program will contribute to solving the problem of high employee turnover rates at BCC due to the difficult housing situation in the Bay Area. Frincke said that although BCC pays their employees “more than most community colleges,” teachers suffer long commutes and “undesirable living situations” to live and work in the area.
The program is available to employees who work a minimum of 20 hours per week and agree to stay with their employer for at least two years, according to the press release. The program will provide up to $120,000 in down payment support, according to Landed’s website. Participants must also qualify for a mortgage through one of the program’s lending partners.
The program doesn’t charge interest or monthly payments according to the Landed website. Rather, in exchange for down payment assistance, the participant shares the investment gain or loss with Landed.
According to Landed’s website, the program currently operates exclusively in developed and urban areas, as well as regions near urban centers. The program is also offered in select school districts, universities and colleges across California, Colorado, Hawaii and Washington.
“BCC is excited to launch this program and partnership because of the affordability issues — housing insecurity, food insecurity — that continue to impact our students and employees,” said BCC President Rowena Tomaneng in an email.
According to Tomaneng, some school employees commute as far as Antioch and Sacramento where average rent is often cheaper. BCC spokesperson Felicia Bridges described the cost of housing in Berkeley as “astronomical” and expects the program to make a “tremendous difference.”
Ian Magruder, the director of partnerships at Landed, said the company not only offers down payment assistance, but also provides educational materials and a network of real estate professionals who are available to give advice on the process. Magruder added that Landed is “eager and open” to exploring a partnership with the UC system.
“We know there’s a problem when not even faculty can find affordable housing, and the prospect of owning a home seems nearly impossible,” Bridges said in an email. “We are hoping that the partnership will help us move the housing equity meter at least a notch in the right direction.”