CITY OF OAKLAND,
Oakland has long held the image of an impoverished second sister to its across-the-bay neighbor, San Francisco. Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown has campaigned actively to reverse this image.
Many of Oakland’s homeowners left during the 1970’s but did not sell their properties, allowing renters to take up residence with little incentive to make long-term repairs. Currently 42% of Oakland residents own their own home, compared to 67% nationally and 51% for all cities. As a result, Oakland’s housing stock has deteriorated at a faster pace than for the rest of the nation, and a larger than average number of its residents has been unable to fulfill the American dream of owning one’s own home.
Recently, the City of Oakland, Freddie Mac, and Bank of America have launched an ambitious project to boost homeownership in Oakland from 42% to 47%. The project could provide as much as $1 billion to assist 10,000 homebuyers by 2004. Because the city’s renter population consistently falls below credit norms, the project will promote the development of non-traditional mortgage products. Under one such product, homebuyers with good credit will receive zero-down mortgages. Under another, homes will be sold to non-profit groups for rent to tenets who will have the option to buy in three years.
Freddie Mac, Bank of America, and the City created the project to rest on a solid base of community support. The project grew from the ground up through a series of workshops designed to solicit advice from community leaders and housing development authorities. The three project partners found that a number of quality mortgage assistance programs already existed in the City, but were confusing in aggregate. To help guide prospective buyers through the maze of existing programs, Freddie Mac and Bank of America are establishing a Home Buyer Assistance Center. The center will become a one-stop source for homebuyers in Oakland, with its own website, toll-free hotline, and computerized database.
The Homeownership Alliance will be available to all city residents but targeted to underprivileged neighborhoods including East Oakland, West Oakland, North Oakland, Fruitvale-San Antonio, and Chinatown. The redevelopment of these neighborhoods will complement Mayor Brown’s "Elegant Density" campaign, whose goal is to draw 10,000 new residents to the city. With the active involvement of local city leaders and the financial knowledge and resources of Freddie Mac and Bank of America, the Homeownership Alliance hopes to bring renewed vigor to the City of Oakland.
For more information, please contact:
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
1620 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006
Telephone (202) 293-7330, FAX (202) 293-2352