The mayors of the Tri-Valley are asking Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-Pleasanton)to seek $2.6 million in federal aid to help homeowners who are struggling in the downturn of the housing market.
In Washington, D.C. to meet with McNerney as well as attend the U.S. Conference of Mayors, representatives from Pleasanton, Dublin, Livermore, San Ramon and Danville spoke with the congressman Wednesday about their plan to help homeowners who are facing foreclosure.
"A portion would be appropriated for educating those families who are in loans that they're not quite sure what they should be doing with, giving them credit counseling and then specifically working with families who are imminently facing foreclosure," said Danville Mayor Candace Andersen.
The monies would go to the Tri-Valley Housing Opportunity Center, a facility located in Livermore that was created two years ago by the five cities in the region to help first-time homebuyers and others seeking affordable housing. The center provides education counseling and offers prospective buyers better deals with approved lenders that partner with the center.
Andersen said since the housing center already has an ongoing relationship with lenders, the new program the mayors are proposing would utilize those lenders to help homeowners with such things as buying down the interest rate, extending the life of the loan and refinancing.
Funding from this program would stay with the housing center if homeowners sell their homes--it would not be a gift, she added.
"If they sell the property or otherwise transfer it, then the housing authority would be re-payed and that money would be available to another family in need," Andersen said.
In two years' time, the housing center has helped 75 families and the proposed funding aims to assist 50 families on a cyclical basis, Andersen said.
San Ramon Mayor H. Abram Wilson touted the plan, saying, "This would be the prototype for all cities in the U.S. so we're really excited about this."
The city of Pleasanton has fared well so far in light of the subprime mortgage crisis, despite a steep rise in foreclosures in cities relatively close such as Brentwood, Mountain House, Stockton and Modesto, which have some of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. But, Mayor Jennifer Hosterman said it's prudent to prepare ahead of time should the crisis spread to Pleasanton homeowners.
"Everyone is extremely concerned about confidence in the market," she said. "Certainly, any slumps in the economy will be felt by us as well, but it's a trickle-down and we're not feeling it in Pleasanton yet, but we could."
The mayors stressed the importance of working together on regional needs, such as housing, the economy and transportation.
"This year, we recognized that with so little funding available that we wanted to make sure that our requests were regional in nature and that is the reason for all of us being here together," Hosterman said.
Another issue discussed with McNerney included securing additional funding for the East Bay Regional Communications System, where police and fire officials can work together during emergencies. A total of $808,000 has already been earmarked for the project. McNerney said he will request an additional $3 million in federal funding.
"There's about $70 million of infrastructure that we need to build and of that, we've received $33 million in grants, so we're about half way to getting it built out," said Bill McCammon, interim executive director for the East Bay system.
McNerney said he is continuing efforts to ensure that the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Livermore isn't sold for private development.
The mayors also requested additional funding for an eastbound carpool and toll (HOV/HOT) lane along Interstate 580, which is in the works.
Hosterman said the project is expected to break ground this year and be completed in 2009. She said the new lane is projected to decrease traffic delay time in that lane by 70 percent as well as decreasing delay times in the mixed lanes.