AC Boost program for down payment assistance opens application through Aug. 30

Infographic depicting the timeline and program details of Alameda's AC Boost program
Flora Huynh/Staff

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The Alameda County Down Payment Assistance Program, or AC Boost, is collecting applications for down payment assistance loans through Aug. 30.

After Alameda County voters approved the 2016 Measure A1 housing bond, the program was founded in 2019 using the measure funds to make homeownership more accessible for low to moderate-income households, according to an AC Boost press release.

“AC Boost unlocks the opportunity for more working households to build home equity, put down roots in the community, and have a place their family can call home for years to come,” said Keith Carson, Alameda County Board of Supervisors president, in the press release.

The project is administered by the Alameda County Housing and Community Development Department and managed by Hello Housing, a nonprofit organization seeking to promote stability, equity and community by providing affordable housing in the Bay Area, according to Sarah Shimmin, Hello Housing senior program manager.

Out of the $580 million included in the Measure A1 housing bond, $50 million was allocated to the AC Boost program, Shimmin said. According to the press release, $9.8 million was used to help 78 households in the first round of funding. The program expects to provide $12 million to up to 70 households in the second round, which opened Aug. 9.

“These loans are structured as shared appreciation loans,” said Jennifer Pearce, Alameda County deputy housing director. “As long as you’re in the house, there’s no interest and there’s no payment.”

Pearce added that eligibility for the program is determined by the county’s average median income, or AMI. Applicants earning up to 120% of the AMI are placed in a random lottery to determine how soon they receive assistance; educators and first responders are given preference, Pearce said.

Shimmin also noted that a key component of the program was ensuring that the county’s demographics were accurately reflected in the recipients of AC Boost funding, which involved research into the racial wealth gap.

“Discriminatory practices in housing and access to credit have opened the door to some families to accrue intergenerational wealth, while completely shutting others out,” said Hello Housing President Jennifer Duffy in the press release. “AC Boost interrupts these cycles of privilege to let more working families in through the front door.”

Furthermore, according to Pearce, AC Boost bridges intergenerational gaps by helping long-time, elderly residents make repairs and accessibility improvements to their homes, while also helping college graduates settle in Alameda County for the first time.

She added that the response to the program has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

“It is so gratifying to be able to help people move into that area,” Pearce said. “People have just been so happy to have the opportunity to do so.”

Contact Kavya Gupta at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @kavyaguptta.