Placer expands eligibility for Tahoe-area down payment assistance program 

Published July 1, 2022

Local workers at all income levels looking to buy a home in North Lake Tahoe are now eligible for down payment assistance through Placer County’s Workforce Housing Preservation Program.   

Removing the income cap was one of several changes adopted Tuesday by the county Board of Supervisors to increase participation in the eastern Placer County side of the program. The program aims to create a “second market” of homes that are reserved for the local workforce.   

Launched in 2021, the program pays participants to deed restrict their properties so that only local workers can purchase or rent them, providing home buyers a funding source that could be used for a down payment or renovations. In recent months the program has seen its first participant close on a property, and another 24 applicants have been approved but not yet found homes to purchase.   

But with a more than doubling in median home prices in North Lake Tahoe in just the past two years, the supply of homes in price ranges affordable to those making less than the program’s initial income cap of 245% of average median income has been scarce.  

Other changes to the program guidelines include removing the provision that those who have owned a home in the last 12 months could not apply, opening it up to the 60% of local workers who live outside of North Tahoe but would prefer to live closer to their jobs. There are also now multiple options to demonstrate that an applicant is a full-time employee - a move to ensure local teachers are eligible. 

Deed restriction payments of 16% of the purchase price, up to $150,000, will be granted during the purchase process, based on funding availability, to those who have prequalified for the program. All participants must qualify for and secure independent financing for the home purchase. In all cases, deed restrictions will remain in place for 55 years, with the 55-year term renewing upon each sale or transfer of the home.   

At full implementation, Placer’s goal is to be able to buy 40 new deed restrictions a year in eastern Placer.  

The program is modeled on Vail, Colorado’s, InDEED program - developed in response to rising housing costs and limited housing availability for local workers. Vails’s housing challenges are similar to eastern Placer County, where almost 90% of homes are owned by second homeowners. Since its inception in 2017, Vail has secured local housing by purchasing deed restrictions on more than 140 units, and the program has since been replicated in the Colorado towns of Frisco and Breckenridge.   

Placer’s Workforce Housing Preservation Program is currently accepting applications from local workers working in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, for homes in eastern Placer County only.