Down Payment Assistance Presented to SSC to Help First Time Home Buyers

Photo with a green background of keys in a door lock

Photo with a green background of keys in a door lock

By Neshmia Alam


DAVIS, CA — On Mar. 28, 2022, the Social Services Commission (SSC) received a presentation regarding a Down Payment Assistance Program (DPA). This program is designed to serve as an aid for first time home buyers in an effort to increase home ownership in Davis.


In September 2020, the SSC voted to recommend the draft Housing Trust Fund (HTF) to the City Council. This document provided a roadmap for funding sources and programs regarding housing availability in Davis. This draft was then added to the Housing Element which was established to evaluate housing barriers and solutions. 


Georgina Valencia, a real estate broker, presented on the DPA. Valencia served on the SSC from 2016 to 2021 as well as the Housing Element Committee from 2020 to 2021. She currently serves on the Planning Commission as an alternate commissioner. She was joined by Shelley Duckart, a mortgage specialist at USE Credit Union.


Valencia described DPAs as being a “widely considered an effective method for addressing housing affordability.” She noted that assistance can take the form of “a loan, it can be a note, or even a gift,” however she proposed that in Davis, it takes the form of  “a program to be administered by the city.”


She identified first time home buyers (FTHB) as being particularly benefited by a DPA. For FTHB, Valencia commented that “the additional outlay of closing costs or even a down payment” can become “one of the barriers, if you will, to buying a home.”


FTHB are not explicitly defined by the City of Davis. For her presentation and proposed program, Valencia used the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) definition. Referencing this definition, Valencia stated that the “key concept” of being a FTHB is “that you can’t have owned a home for three years prior to actually buying this home and being considered a first time home buyer in this program.” She also acknowledged that City Council requested “the addition of two definitions within the new [affordable housing] ordinance.” These definitions included HUD’s definition, as well as one which would specifically apply to affordable housing. 


Valencia went on to explain the problems that a DPA serves to solve. She addressed the city wide issues that resulted from decreased purchasing of homes in Davis. Valencia stated that these housing issues led to “reduced enrollment in Davis schools” as well as “reduced numbers of families, minorities, seniors, [and] workforce.” She credits these issues to the fact that members of these communities have less access to the resources necessary to purchase homes in Davis. Valencia went on to note how these problems also lead to an influx of commuters.


Valencia continued on to discuss barriers when buying a house in Davis. She noted that a lack of housing and construction of new housing restricts the opportunity to become a homeowner in the city. She continued by specifying a lack of affordable housing, lack of housing programs, and a lack of information on housing availability also created barriers to becoming homeowners. 


Valencia called for more housing to be built as a solution stating, “building homes of any kind would really make a difference.” She also recommended programs for communities vulnerable to a lack of housing affordability in order to “help them qualify to buy either a more affordably priced market rate home or an actual affordable deed restricted [home].”


When asking for a DPA within Davis, Valencia looked to the many DPA programs present in other cities and counties. “This also means that Davis is missing an opportunity to address housing affordability,” said Valencia. 


She suggested using the HTF to create programs such as a DPA and create a meaningful change for housing availability in Davis. She asked the SSC to “recommend to City Council that they accept the Down Payment Assistance Program, be funded through the Housing Trust Fund, and establish an account within the HTF that provides a mechanism to accept funding.” She went on to specify that this program would be entitled the “First Time Home Buyer Program.”


No public comments were made following Valencia’s presentation. However, prior to the presentation, community member Ruth Coleman expressed her support for the proposal stating that Davis needed to become a more “welcoming and diverse community.”


City staff member Dago Fierros also noted that four emails from the public had been sent over the previous weekend in unanimous support for a DPA.


SSC Vice Chair Rachael Fulp-Cooke stated that despite her belief that the program would be helpful, “My concern is about funding it and consistently funding it.”


To this, Valencia admitted that there is no “one size fits all” answer. However, she suggested solutions such as a transportation occupancy tax, use of funds allocated to the HTF, and donations. She stressed that there is currently no system to designate which specific programs donation funds will support. 


Commissioner Bapu Vaitla asked Valencia, “how many houses are you foreseeing would be subject to this program for the first few years?”


Her response was that it would take “a bit of guesswork until we actually get into it,” but she estimated “one house a quarter” would benefit in the beginning of this program. 


Valencia continued to stress that funding, for example $20,000 a quarter, “can make a real difference.” Duckart chimed in, adding that most people’s “biggest struggle [when purchasing a house] is the down payment.” 


Closing out the discussion Valencia stated that if the DPA were to be established, “the door would be more open [to future programs] because we would have started creating the mechanisms.”


The SSC motioned to recommend that City Council accept the proposal of a DPA. The motion was unanimously supported by commissioners and the program will be reviewed by City Council with the SSC’s endorsement.


About The Author

Jordan Varney received a masters from UC Davis in Psychology and a B.S. in Computer Science from Harvey Mudd. Varney is editor in chief of the Vanguard at UC Davis.

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  1. Keith Olson

    SSC Vice Chair Rachael Fulp-Cooke stated that despite her belief that the program would be helpful, “My concern is about funding it and consistently funding it.”

    I think most taxpayers in Davis have this “concern”.

  2. Ron Oertel

    They’d probably be better-off focusing their efforts against DiSC, given that it would create a “shortage” of 1,269 homes.  (Assuming that the commercial component is actually successful.)

    Per the EIR, DiSC would create additional demand for 1,729 housing units – with only 460 units provided onsite. Leaving the rest of Davis (and surrounding communities) to “absorb” the remaining 1,269 units.

  3. Alan Miller

    Affordable housing:  a problem that sounds like a solution everyone can get behind and solves ‘affordability issues’ by eating its own tail until it can’t get any more tail down the hatch. Beautiful.

  4. Chris Griffith

    Somewhere around 75% of millennials have saved less than $1000 towards a down payment on buying a house


    But probably 100% of them have spent twice that much for a smart phone and data plan within the last year.


    Not to mention games


    I love it liberals AKA socialist throw around the term low-cost housing

    The only thing you’re trying to do is buy votes for the next election cycle.


    If a significant percentage of your net worth is in your house, you are strongly incentivized to do everything you can to make housing expensive in your area

    The banks are encouraged to make housing expensive, because cash purchases are for the wealthy only, and the rest of us pay interest

    Local governments are incentivized to make housing expensive because property taxes are based on assessed value



    1. Ron Oertel

      At this point, I can hardly wait for the next housing crash.  (I’m seeing more “official” predictions of that, lately.)

      A giant pin (in the form of rising interest rates, inflation, lack of actual population growth, etc.) popping that balloon.

      And then, when housing prices are falling – no one wants them. A game of musical chairs, when the music stops.

      “Buy high, sell low.”

      Might as well enjoy that avocado toast, while we’re waiting. 🙂

    2. Bill Marshall

      Somewhere around 75% of millennials have saved less than $1000 towards a down payment on buying a house

      Guess we’re just a weird family… we have 3 millennials… two have not only saved more than $1 k towards a down payment, but actually bought houses, with no PMI… the third lives with us but has much more than $1 k to put towards a DP…

      Are you sure you’re not just ‘blowing smoke’?  You didn’t cite a reference, so it would be inappropriate for me to call BS… you might be including millennials who were raised in poverty, and the family never rose above that… that’s a separate issue, where your point,

      But probably 100% of them have spent twice that much for a smart phone and data plan within the last year.
      Not to mention games

      seems cynical, at best… whatever floats your boat as far as looking down on others…

      What ‘gen’ are you?

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