Low Income Assistance Programs in Santa Clara County, California help low-income families and residents who do not meet the county’s standards of self-sufficiency. Because of stagnant wages, rising costs of out-of-pocket expenses, and increased unemployment, county residents have turned to these programs not only to address short-term needs, but also to achieve long-term stability.
Housing and Rental Assistance Programs in Santa Clara County
The Office of Affordable Housing (OAH) of Santa Clara County aims to preserve and enhance the quality of life of Santa Clara County residents through initiatives and programs that aid in the development of affordable housing, support systems and housing conservation for residents with special needs or low incomes.
- Mortgage Credit Certificate Program – eligible first-time homebuyers can get financial assistance through this federal government program. Authorized by U.S. Congress in 1984, the MCC tax credit is similar to a mortgage subsidy and lowers the federal income tax of eligible first-time homebuyers who are purchasing a qualified housing unit. The maximum tax credit rate is 15% of the interest paid on the initial loan. However, this credit may not be issued as a refund. The following jurisdictions are currently part of the program:
- Campbell – Mountain View
- Cupertino – Palo Alto
- Gilroy – San Jose
- Los Gatos – Santa Clara
- Milpitas – SunnyVale
- Morgan Hill – other unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County
- Reissued MCC (RMCC) Program – in this program, Mortgage Credit Certificates are reissued to MCC program holders whose original mortgage loan have been refinanced to enable them to keep their federal tax credit as long as they use the housing unit as their principal residence.
- SCC40K Downpayment Assistance Program – the OAH can provide eligible applicants financial assistance in the form of a deferred 30-year loan which can be used for downpayment or closing costs. The loan, which is due upon transfer of ownership, cash-out refinance and sale, has an interest rate of 3% for 4 years beginning the 5th year.
The Housing Authority of the County of Santa Clara (HACSC), one of the largest housing authorities in Santa Catalina County, gives rental subsidies to qualified county residents in need and develops low-cost housing for families with low incomes, the elderly and the disabled.
- Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program – in this federal program, beneficiaries who live in privately-owned rental units are only required to pay a rental fee that amounts to 30% of their income. The rest is covered by the rental subsidy paid directly to the owner. Beneficiaries can still enjoy the benefits of the program even if they move to a new home. In addition, beneficiaries can opt to exercise the program’s portability feature which allows them to still use the subsidy with another housing authority when they move to another county or state.
- The Family Self Sufficiency Program –this resource enables HCV participants to gain self-sufficiency by providing them with employment coordination services and access to on-the-job training. In this program, participants are required to maintain gainful employment, or attend job training or school. As the earning capacity of the HCV participant increases, so does the portion of the rent he or she pays. The increase in the amount of rent paid by the participant is matched by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) with money kept in an escrow account. The beneficiary is then awarded the money upon the program’s completion.
- Mainstream Voucher Program – people with disabilities are prioritized in this rental subsidy program. The participants in this program are selected from the Voucher Waiting List.
- Project Based Voucher Program – this initiative incorporates Section 8 Rental Assistance to private housing units in rehabilitation, new construction or rental housing that already exists. These low-cost units are rented out to low-income families on the Housing Authority waiting list. ‘
Food Assistance Programs in Santa Clara County
Santa Catalina residents and families experiencing food insecurity can participate in the CalFresh program to address their nutritional needs. CalFresh, the food aid program of the state of California and one of the most vital low income assistance programs in Santa Clara County, helps low-income families and residents purchase nutritious food. CalFresh benefits are electronically credited to a beneficiary’s Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card which can be used just like a debit card at participating food retailers. A number of factors such as size of household and monthly income will dictate the amount of CalFresh Benefit received by the beneficiary.
County residents experiencing food insecurity may also visit Second Harvest Food Bankand other food pantries across Santa Clara County. These food pantries can also provide other forms of assistance and services:
- Manna Food Distribution – Innvision: Georgia Travis Center
- Meals on Wheels -
- Sunny Vale Community Services
- The Health Trust Food Basket
- Innvision: Cecil White Center
Utility Bills and Cooling Bills Assistance Programs
In California, most electric, gas, water and utility companies have programs that can assist a resident or a family with low income. Some of the programs are state-mandated, while the others are financed with donations from businesses and locals.
- California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) – this state-mandated program help low-income families and residents pay their natural gas and electric bills by providing a 20% discount to its eligible participants.
- California Low Income Energy Efficiency (LIEE) Program – this initiative aims to provide low-income families and residents with services that will improve the energy efficiency of the home. These services include attic insulation, energy efficient furnaces, repairs that prevent air infiltration, weather stripping caulking and others.
Low-income families, children, seniors, veterans, the formerly homeless, the disabled, and the rest of the marginalized depend on these subsidies to address their basic needs such as food and shelter and to assist them in moving towards self-sufficiency and financial independence. Because of this, low income assistance programs in Santa Clara County are important components of the county’s plan of combating income inadequacy.
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