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California offers program for first-time homebuyers


California Housing Finance Agency

The current state of the economy has made living the “American dream” seem like a death sentence. While not meant to be taken literally as a physical death, it is a financial death, and it’s a slow death because this dream is etched into our brains at a young age. California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) is trying a new program to help alleviate some of the pressure and try to help Americans get one step closer to the dream without crippling them financially.

“With this program, we’re trying to jumpstart the generational wealth that owning a home can get you,” said CalHFA Information Officer Eric Johnson. “If it’s a 20% loan, for example, you have to pay that 20% when you sell or refinance the home, plus 20% of what you’ve gained in the sale, so we can use that money to fund the next generation of new homebuyers.

The program referred to is the Dream For All Shared Appreciation Loan Program, which offers first-time homebuyers a mortgage-lowering loan of up to $150,000 or 20% of a house purchase price, whichever is less. The creation of this program started last April, with 2,000 people being the recipients in the first round and another 2,000 people chosen for the second round. 

To be considered for the program, applicants must not have owned their first home in the last seven years, and their parents must not currently own a home — or, if they died, must not have owned one at their passing. Those who were in the foster care system at any time also qualify. To qualify for the loan, one person has to be a California resident and a first-time home buyer, but in a dual household, only one person needs to qualify for each requirement. 

There are income requirements that vary per county, with the highest being 287,000 for Santa Clara and Los Angeles coming in at 155,000.”It does feel a little bit strange that a low-to-moderate-income homebuyer can make that much, but that’s where California is these days,” said Johnson.

Unlike last year’s first come, first served round for applicants, this year, they will randomly pull people who filed between April 3 and April 29 so that funds are distributed more fairly. This drawing doesn’t have an exact release date but should occur during the second week of May. 

“There are so many Californians who have a good income, who have good jobs and credit, but haven’t been able to save up for a downpayment, not having the advantage of intergenerational wealth,” said Johnson.

In 2023, the homeownership rate for Black U.S. households was 45.9% — 28.6 percentage points below the white rate of 74.4%. For Latino households, the gap was a similar 25.8% below the white rate.

You can apply for the program by visiting