In the News: Monterey County school districts introduce down payment assistance program for home buyers
MONTEREY — Three school districts in Monterey County are taking a step aimed at keeping educators and staff in the area for a long time.
Last week, the Monterey Peninsula, North Monterey County and Pacific Grove unified school districts introduced Landed, a down payment assistance and financial wellness program aimed at helping public school teachers and staff afford to buy homes.
“It’s exciting because we want to give our teachers and staff opportunities to be able to get into the housing market here,” said Monterey Peninsula Unified School District Superintendent PK Diffenbaugh.
Diffenbaugh said it’s often difficult for the district’s staff to purchase a home because of how expensive houses are in the area. He said Landed is a chance for some to get in the market where they otherwise couldn’t.
“So, that’s very exciting because we know that if people own a home they’re more likely to stay in the community,” he said.
Diffenbaugh said reducing the staff turnover has been a huge focus and hopes Landed is a way to help with the issue. He said he wants to continue the momentum the district has gained over the past five years, which means continuity, consistency and sustainability over time.
The Landed program will provide half of a down payment on a home, up to $120,000 per family, in exchange for a portion of the change in the value of the home if or when the home is sold. The program’s participating lenders currently require homebuyers bring a minimum of 10 percent of the home’s cost as a down payment.
Ian Magruder, director of partnerships at Landed, said Landed makes its return on investment when someone sells or buys out the investment. The home buyer shares 25 percent of the investment gain or loss with Landed. For more detailed information, potential home buyers can visit https://www.landed.com/how-it-works
“This is not going to be a perfect fit for everyone but we think it can be really helpful for families who are close to home ownership and just need that extra boost,” Magruder said. “We recognize that not everyone’s in a position to buy and that this is one of many housing solutions.”
Magruder said the Landed down payment support will be made available to all teachers, administrators and staff who have worked for Monterey Peninsula, North Monterey County or Pacific Grove unified school districts for at least two years.
Magruder said Landed is not a program created or endorsed by the three school districts but it is an opportunity to educate interested employees to learn more if they are interested in buying a home.
Since 2015, Landed has helped more than 100 educators purchase homes in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles and Denver. Landed announced a partnership with all 10 school districts in Santa Cruz County last November.
Magruder said the program was well received in Santa Cruz County. He mentioned Landed has helped 10 families buy a home there. Dozens more are looking at homes or putting in offers.
“Santa Cruz has been one of our most successful areas. We’ve had a lot of home buyers in less than a year,” Magruder said.
The Santa Cruz County Community Foundation has also invested $1 million in impact investment capital to support the program and Bay Federal Credit Union joined as a partner local mortgage lender earlier this year.
Magruder, who was a former Student Representative on the Santa Cruz City Schools Board of Trustees, said as housing prices in the Bay Area keep rising, it causes a spillover effect to the Monterey Bay area.
“Teachers, educators and employees of schools are having a hard time finding a way to build roots and permanence in the community,” Magruder said. “Many are thinking of leaving education or leaving the area and we think this can be one way to help them stay.”
Magruder said he admits it won’t totally fix the problem but believes the program can truly assist families, especially those who have a savings account but not quite enough for a down payment.
“We are excited to be able to provide all of our employees access to this option,” said Craig Chavez, assistant superintendent of Human Resources at North Monterey County Unified School District. “Ultimately, each employee will have to determine if this program is the right fit for their individual needs in regards to purchasing a home.”
Chavez said having a variety of options for employees regarding local housing could help with teacher retention. he said purchasing a home in Monterey County is sometimes out of reach for many families and individuals.
Chavez said providing an alternative means to help with the initial 20 percent down payment might work well for some staff members.
“School employees will stay in the area if they are able to put down roots,” Chavez said. “Any staff member who is able to put down roots because of this opportunity is another employee we have a greater chance of retaining long term.”
The faculty and staff from all three school districts can attend an informational session to learn more about the program on Nov. 26 at 4:30 p.m. at the MPUSD District Services Center at 540 Canyon Del Rey in Monterey. Those who are interested can RSVP for the info session at: landed.com/events
Any educators interested in the program now can apply for support at landed.com.
Juan Reyes can be reached at (831) 726-43601
*CORRECTION: Craig Chavez, assistant superintendent of Human Resources at North Monterey County Unified School District spoke on behalf of the district. The original story published Nov. 18 incorrectly reported that Ana De Castro, spokesperson at North Monterey County Unified School District made the statement.