Housing Authority Pre-App Waitlist Opens, Offers Home Buying Program
By Dianne Anderson
Times were no doubt tough for Dieanna Prudholme, through her stay in public housing and all the hurdles that go along with that process, but she is grateful for the S.B. County Housing Authority scholarship that helped fill in some of the gaps where her loans and grants fell short.
Now in her second year at Cal State University, Fullerton, Prudholme, said the $1,500 scholarship given out over two semesters went a long way to support her first two years at college.
“It mainly kept me from having to take out loans for the first year, I did live on campus, it did help me,” said Prudholme, 19, a kinesiology major.
Someone from the Housing Authority nudged her mother to apply for the scholarship, and she won.
Prudholme said the transition from her stay in public housing to college had some experiences that were negative, but she didn’t let it impact her studies. She’s in for the long haul. She commutes three days a week to school from Riverside to the Fullerton campus for work and study.
“The scholarship has been a huge blessing, Financial support is always beneficial,” she said.
Ana Gamiz, director of policy and public affairs for S.B. County Housing Authority, said applicants must be housing authority residents, and participating in one of their several programs. The process is easy to access, and some of their students apply for two or four years of college.
The Housing Authority of the County of San Bernardino is also accepting pre-applications for housing communities located in Colton, Fontana, Redlands, Adelanto, Apple Valley, Hesperia, San Bernardino, and Victorville. Applications will not be accepted or available on their website after Friday, April 27 at 4:00 pm
At last count last year, there were 10,653 vouchers and 61,448 applicants on waiting lists to get into affordable housing. She said the tremendous wait time and tight supply is reflected both nationwide, and locally.
Although housing choice vouchers are not opening in the foreseeable future, she feels that it is better for those who need it to sign up now to be prepared when an opening becomes available. At least there is some hope for the future if someone is already on the list, she said.
“The only way you can pull people off the waitlist is if other people come off the program. That’s why we encourage the home ownership and the Family Self Sufficiency Program,” she said.
For families ready to take the next step, she said other housing programs are available, including one that allows residents to transition from renting to home ownership over a five year period.
The Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) program has helped 232 families purchase their homes since it started in 2002.
Outside of their traditional housing programs, she said FSS has had good success specifically in getting families prepared to purchase a home with guidance from housing authority specialists.
Participating families save for their down-payment on a home, working with Housing Authority staff to get in line with a five-year plan with a variety of resources to meet their professional goals.
“Some families come in and they are ready, but for the most part they need to work on credit or save money,” she said.
Families learn how to become independent from government assistance. As their household income increases, gradually their rent increases with a portion diverted to an FSS escrow account and their money grows until they graduate. Some will have saved for a down payment for a house, and others will use their savings to pay for education, start a business or buy a car.
“We help about 10 to 12 families a year become homeowners,” she said. “Our staff helps provide guidance to get on the right track, to find a home and a loan.”
Pre-applications for the waitlists are available for download online at www.hacsb.com
Or for more information on FSS or scholarship services, contact 909.890.0644