South County Housing still seeks potential homeowners

People walk down the sidewalk past the newly completed Hillview development Friday afternoon as the residents received their keys to the homes they helped build.

South County Housing will host an orientation meeting Aug. 30, at 6 p.m., at the Rancho Park Apartments in Hollister in hopes of finding more potential homeowners for a self-help home project. San Benito, Gilroy and Morgan Hill residents are eligible to apply to the program.

Those who qualify for the homes will use sweat equity to take the palce of a cash down payment. Mortgages are specially designed with payments affordable to low and very low income families. Down payment assistance funds are available to bring down the sales price.

The deadline for applying for one of the thirty homes at Hillview 2 self help neighborhood is soon approaching. Applications are being accepted on a first come, first serve basis. To RSVP for the orientation meeting or for information about applying, call 408-778-8815.

Special USDA mortgages designed to be affordable to low income buyers offer payments based on interest rates as low as 1 percent. Additional down payment assistance to reduce the first mortgage amount by up to $60,000 is available for qualified borrowers. Sweat equity involves the families providing 65 percent of the labor required to build their homes over the course of approximately one year. South County Housing is a 32-year old nonprofit affordable housing developer working in the Central Coast area. The organization has successfully worked with 246 Hollister families in the construction of self help homes, as well as building over 750 additional self help and subcontracted homes throughout their service area. SCH also owns and operates more than 1,500 rental units.

25 similar self-help homes were completed by South County Housing a year ago at the adjacent Hillview 1 community. The Hillview 2 homes will incorporate many of the same features that make the Hillview 1 homes some of the most energy efficient in the City of Hollister. Almost all of the houses will be oriented to benefit from passive solar heating. The Self Help families will set ceramic tile in the living areas on 11” thick structural slabs to provide mass for the storage and release of heat from the sun. This mass will also help keep the homes cooler in the summer. SCH is planning on partnering with Grid Alternatives to provide photovoltaic systems to all the homes for minimal cost to the homeowners. These solar systems will provide for most of the owners’ electrical needs. The building envelope will be very well insulated, using 2×6 walls with recycled blown cellulous insulation providing R22 in the walls and R38 in the attics. These features, along with high efficiency condensing furnaces and on-demand hot water heaters, will result in very low utility bills.