Undocumented Migrants May Get Home Buying Assistance

California may soon make it easier for undocumented immigrants to purchase a home in the state.

A proposal was put forth in January by state Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula that would ultimately expand who was eligible for a state loan program. It would also make loans for people who are buying a home for the first time available to undocumented immigrants.

The original bill that’s in place doesn’t explicitly exclude undocumented immigrants. But, the new proposal that’s been put forth, Assembly Bill 1840, specifically states that all applicants to what’s known as the California Dream for All Shared Appreciation Loan program “shall not be disqualified solely based on the applicant’s immigration status.”

This means that undocumented immigrants would specifically receive protections if the bill were to become law.

Due to interest rates soaring for mortgages and home prices increasingly rapidly as well in the last few years, there’s been significant concern about whether home ownership has become out of reach for many Americans who belong to middle-class households.

In response, California created the program in 2023 to aid these middle- and low-income wage earners purchase their own home. It offers buyers who are eligible a loan for a down payment that could be worth as much as 20% of the overall purchase price of the home.

These loans wouldn’t accrue any interest and don’t even need to be repaid in traditional monthly installments.

Instead, the borrower would pay the original amount of the loan plus 20% of the increase in its home value whenever it sells, or if the mortgage is ever refinanced.

This program quickly became very popular around the state. In fact, the Los Angeles Times has reported that just 11 days after the program was launched, the $300 million it was allocated had been completely used up.

Speaking about the new bill he put forward, Arambula said:

“What we are simply saying is those that have been in our state for years, if not decades, who are otherwise able to qualify for a loan should also be able to apply through the California Dream for All, and we are providing that clarity with our bill.”

People in California can qualify for the program as long as they’ve never owned a home in the past, or if they owned a home at least three years ago but ended up selling it. They also have to plan to live in the home that they want to purchase with the help of the loan program.

Undocumented immigrants already can apply to the program, Arambula said. But, his bill is necessary because the original bill’s wording is rather unclear, which ultimately could’ve led undocumented immigrants from being disenfranchised from applying.

As he explained:

“It’s that ambiguity for undocumented individuals, despite the fact that they’ve qualified under existing criteria, such as having a qualified mortgage. [It] underscores the pressing need for us to introduce legislation.”

Many Republicans in the state are against the bill, saying that the program should only be available to residents who are in the country legally.

Republican Bill Wells, who is the major of the city of El Cajon, recently commented about the state’s legal residents:

“They should be first in line to buy homes and to get assistance, not people who aren’t from this country.”