Workers in the North Lake Tahoe region who cannot purchase a house may now apply for a new program that will assist them in realizing their housing goals.

Placer County’s new Workforce Housing Preservation Program, available at placer.ca.gov/whpp, is now taking applications, giving monetary assistance to qualifying purchasers in return for deed restrictions restricting their houses to only local employees. The money may be used to help with down payments or complete improvements for homebuyers.

The county Board of Supervisors adopted guidelines for the new program in February, permitting a soft launch of the program in eastern Placer County this year.

The program is based on the InDEED program in Vail, Colorado, which was created in response to growing housing costs and limited housing options for local employees. Vail’s housing problems are comparable to those in eastern Placer County, where second homeowners control over 90% of the properties. However, Vail has secured local housing by acquiring deed restrictions on more than 140 units since its debut in 2017. The initiative has now been copied in the Colorado municipalities of Frisco and Breckenridge.

The Workforce Housing Preservation Program in Placer County is divided into two parts: One for eastern Placer County, which is modeled after Vail’s, and the other for the entire county, which allows housing developers to fund deed restrictions as another way to meet their affordable housing obligations.

With limited initial financing, Placer will only accept applications from local workers in eastern counties during this initial round of the program.

Placer expects to spend $3 million per year on additional deed restrictions after fully implementing the program, with 40 in eastern Placer and 10 in the unincorporated county.

To qualify for a single-family unit in eastern Placer County, where housing costs are exceptionally high due to the tourism-driven economy, applicants must earn at least 245% of the average median income or 220% for a multifamily unit — about $223,000 and $200,000 for a family of four, respectively. In addition, to be considered, applicants must work at least 30 hours per week at a job location within the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District’s geographical borders.

Expenses for deed restriction will be determined on an individual basis for each submission. All parties must qualify for and get separate financing in order to buy a home. Deed limitations will last for 55 years in all circumstances, with the period renewing with each sale or transfer of the residence.

The Placer County Board of Supervisors authorized $250,000 in initial program financing from the county general budget and a $250,000 allotment of transient occupancy tax income set aside for housing and transportation. According to county officials, the initiative will eventually be run as a public-private partnership, with local companies and other groups affected by the housing crisis contributing to its funding.

 

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