Santa Barbara View Staff Report
Santa Barbara City employees are entitled to a number of perks, including the Employee Mortgage Loan Assistance Program (EMLAP).
According to a document, “City of Santa Barbara Summary of EMLAP Loans,” since 2001, the City has provided 37 employee home loans, initially totaling $5.3 million, and the total amount repaid to date is $948,237. Six of the individuals who obtained one of these home loans are no longer employed by the City; one of the loans is in arrears.
The loans are interest only for the first 5 years; after 5 years, the loans are repaid based on a 30-year amortized period. At year 15, however, the full amount of the loan is due in a balloon payment.
No loans have been made since March, 2009; according to Finance Director Robert Samario, “The Program has been suspended primarily because the authority granted by City Council for loans has been reached.”
The initial amount of the loans range from a high of $500,000 (of which $118,512 has been paid) to a low of $24,086 (of which $505 has been paid). The average loan amount is $100,888.
The interest rates range from 0.46% to 0.56%, and are tied to a State Investment Pool rate, which changes with—but is less volatile than—the market interest rate. According to a source familiar with the program, after five years of employment, the city reduces the points loans by 25%; and another 25% after 10 years.
The program is described in the City’s Employee Handbook dated 7/1/2009:
“Employee Mortgage Loan Assistance Program (EMLAP): This City program is available to regular employees who are first-time South Coast homebuyers (have not owned a home on the South Coast of Santa Barbara in the last three years). The program is structured using a combination of an employee down payment, traditional bank mortgage financing, and City-provided financing.”
The City intends to expand the home loan program for its workers. The General Plan Update appendix, section H12.2, under City Assistance reads: “Expand and improve the existing Homebuyer’s Assistance Programs for City Employees.”