Monday, July 07, 2008

Help for housing costs in California

This article appeared in the Bee. I don't know if any of the readers are eligible, but given how much some of our families pay in health care, I thought every little bit could help.

Housing cash available for older, disabled, blind
last updated: July 07, 2008 03:49:01 AM

At A Glance
To get California Homeowner and Renter Assistance Program funds, residents must apply.
The 2008 application deadline is Oct. 15.
Here's who is eligible:
Must be 62 years of age or older, blind or disabled as of Dec. 31, 2007
Must have a total household income of $44,096 or less
Must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident
For homeowners assistance: Must have owned and lived in your own home at the end of 2007. One-time payments of as much as $472.60 will be awarded, based on how much is paid in property taxes.
For renters assistance: Must have paid $50 per month or more in rent for a California residence that is not tax-exempt. One-time payments of as much as $347.50 will be awarded, based on the property taxes paid by the landlord. To apply for the money, look for the application form and instructions on the Franchise Tax Board Web site: For more information, call 800-868-4171.
To get free help filling out the California Homeowner and Renter Assistance Program application, contact:
Disability Resource Agency for Independent Living, 221 McHenry Ave., Modesto; call Aspasia Christy at 521-7260.
Modesto Salvation Army, 625 I St., Modesto; call Norma Sherrill at 523-7577.
Catholic Charities Merced, 336 West Main St., Merced; call 383-2494.
Merced Senior Center, 755 W. 15th St., Merced; call Joe Welch at 722-8789.
Manteca Senior Center, 295 Cherry Lane, Manteca; call Helen Hixon at 825-2301.
State Sen. Jeff Denham's offices in Modesto and Merced offers help by appointment, 577-6592.

There's government money available to help pay housing costs, but relatively few Northern San Joaquin Valley residents have been collecting the cash.

California offers financial help to lower-income residents who are 62 or older, disabled or blind. The one-time payments range from $15 to $347 for renters and from $20 to $472 for homeowners.

Households earning as much as $44,096 per year are eligible to collect.
Last year, nearly $185.9 million was distributed to about 610,000 Californians, about 1.6 percent of the state's population.

But Stanislaus, San Joaquin, Merced and Tuolumne counties' residents were far less likely to receive money from the California Homeowner and Renter Assistance Program.

Only 2,252 Stanislaus County residents -- about 0.4 percent of the population -- received any of those funds last year. And of those who did, on average they got $287 compared with the state average of nearly $305.

In San Joaquin County, 0.4 percent of residents received those funds, and on average they received less than $280.

In Merced County, 0.5 percent got money, and their average was $278.
In Tuolumne County, 0.7 percent got money, and their average was $260.

The housing money is supposed to go to low-income households. Statistically, Northern San Joaquin Valley residents are among the poorest in California.

Household income in Merced, for example, ranks 53rd out of 58 California counties. Stanislaus ranks 35th, Tuolumne ranks 34th, and San Joaquin ranks 28th.

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