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State offering housing assistance
The state of California will be releasing $600,000 to the city of Ceres for affordable housing as part of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's economic stimulus plan announced last week.

Schwarzenegger awarded $73 million for 40 housing projects in 26 cities across the state, helping 1,611 California families rent or purchase affordable housing.

Jennifer Sweeney, director for Communications for the state Department of Housing and Community Development, said the funds come from Proposition 1C through the BEGIN program, which is an acryonym for Building Equity and Growth in Neigborhoods.

"This will be for reduced regulatory barriers to affordable housing and provide downpayment assistance loans for qualified first-time low- and moderate-income homebuyers," said Sweeney.

The funds will assist 20 moderate-income families with the $30,000 downpayment toward homes in the Dow Ranch subdivision under construction at Richland and Zona Bella. The houses will have a sales price of between $230,000 and $260,000, said Jack Newell, the city of Ceres' Redevelopment and housing coordinator.

The city will be likely be advertising at the end of the month for participants.

Those whose household family income does not exceed $67,000 for a family of four may be eligible for the moderate income assistance. The formula is based on up to 120 percent of median income. In Stanislaus County the median income is $56,000 annually.

Newell said the city's role in bringing down costs included relaxing parking standards and streamining the permit process.

Dow Homes is being developed by Envision Homes. They're website is