SANTA FE, N.M.
When I first started looking I went to a house listed for $98,000 in the city," says Teresita Hamman, an elementary school teacher and Peace Corps volunteer. "It needed so much work and was so tiny and in an awful neighborhood that I thought, if this is what $98,000 buys, I'll never be able to afford a house."
Through a friend she learned she could qualify for a discounted loan through Neighborhood Housing Services of Santa Fe (NHS), and a local bank. As she works on a rock garden outside her new three-bedroom home, she says, "With the discount, I bought the house for $110,000 and my mortgage is $658 a month, which is just what I can afford."
The housing subsidy program works this way: Ms. Hamman paid $110,000 for the house, but it probably cost $125,000 to build. The additional $15,000 of cost is passed on to her as virtually a second mortgage with no interest or payment charged. If Hamman should sell the house, she pays back the "second mortgage" and keeps any remaining equity.
"This goes beyond just the shelter aspect," says Michael Loftin of NHS. "It's important to know that young people can buy a house in Santa Fe and have a future. This gives people hope, because they are doing all the right things, playing by the rules, but because the market is nuts, they have been excluded."