Thanks to a city-approved loan, first-time homebuyer Colleen Jones will now call downtown Tracy home.
Jones, who makes $35,000 annually as a hair stylist, was the first recipient of Tracy’s down-payment assistance loans and received the maximum $75,000 to use as a down payment for her newly purchased $233,000 home, a foreclosure property.
Living off a below-average single income, the 30-year-old Jones never thought she’d own a home this soon.
“I’m excited and a little bit nervous, just because this is so new for me,” said Jones, who lives in Dublin and has family in Tracy. “This is the only way I could’ve owned a home at this time in my life.”
Jones also received a $2,000 city grant for repairs on the 10th Street house, which was built in 1925 and had two previous owners.
The city began to offer down-payment loans in December 2004 to homebuyers who met specific criteria for homes bought in Tracy’s downtown area as part of an attempt to revitalize the city’s center.
The city approves applicants based on income and a debt-to-income ratio of 45 percent. A single occupant must make no more than $50,640 a year and must not have owned a home in the past three years. Homeowners are expected to repay the loans within 30 years with 3 percent interest and are not penalized for prepayment.
Ellen Gripp, who screens and approves applicants, said the city started giving out grants and offering assistance with down payments to attract new homeowners to Tracy’s downtown.
“We think that new property owners in downtown are likely to show more pride in the area,” Gripp said. “It’s amazing what one person can do on a block. If someone puts in a little effort, others can kind of follow suit.”
So far, Gripp has seen several homeowners receive grant money for home improvements, but Jones is the first to actually get help with buying her home.
Last year, the city upped the maximum loan amount from $50,000 to $75,000.
The city approved $1 million in redevelopment money, enough for about 10 to 14 homeowners, for home loans and repair grants, but “it took a couple of years to get things up and running, because the price of homes wasn’t as low as it is now,” Gripp said.