First-time homeowners can apply for the new CalHFA program. (Shutterstock)

This April, many Californians will have the opportunity to participate in a new program that will help qualified applicants to be the first in their family to own a home through a new program from the California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) called the “Dream For All” (DFA) Shared Application Loan Program.

DFA is a down payment assistance program for first-time homebuyers. Upon sale or transfer of the home, the buyer repays the down payment loan, plus a share of the appreciation in the value of the home.

This new program specifically focuses on serving those who did not and will not have a home handed down to them by a parent or another family member. It allows them to build generational wealth through home ownership.

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Ethnic Media Services and California Black Media in partnership with CalHFA held a news conference to shed light on his new program that seeks to bring home ownership and the opportunity to build generational wealth within the reach of first-generation home buyers. Regina Brown Wilson, executive director of California Black Media, was the moderator.

Eric Johnson, information officer for CalHFA’s Marketing and Communications Division, said, “First-generation homebuyers are the heart of why we’re doing this program. There are so many people in California that have a good income, good jobs, credit, all that but haven’t been able to save up for a down payment.

Also, they haven’t had the benefit of that intergenerational wealth. Many Californias who have never owned property, now have a rare opportunity to own a home through the DFA,” he noted.

Maeve Elise Brown, executive director and founder of Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA), also participated in the recent conference. She has worked with individuals for more than two decades to help them qualify for their first home by offering free in-depth debt counseling by lawyers.

African Americans are encouraged to participate in “Dream For All.” (Shutterstock)

Brown said, “One reason why DFA is such an important tool is the amount of debt that we’re carrying in general as people of color and as women is not getting any smaller. As of last year, about 46% of African Americans nationally were homeowners compared to a 74.4% rate for Caucasian residents. That is a very tangible gap,” she stated.

To qualify for this program, at least one borrower must meet the definition of a first-generation homebuyer whose name has never been on a title and at least one borrower on the loan must be a current California resident.  

For this loan, a first-generation home buyer can also be defined as someone who has not owned their first home in the last seven years and whose parents do not currently own a home.  If their parents have died, they must not have owned a home at the time of their passing.

Another group of people who’ve never had that opportunity for generational wealth are individuals who have at any time been placed in foster care or institutional care of any type such as group homes with caregivers that they were not related to.

The DFA program offers up to 20% for down payment or closing costs, not to exceed $150,000. This program is for low to moderate-income home buyers who must meet CalHFA income limits.  Income limits are determined by county; for example, the income limit for qualified applicants in Los Angeles County is $150,000, but in Alameda County, the income limit is $234,000.

Funds received back from homes sold or refinanced will go towards funding the next round of applicants. The first round of loans issued in April 2023 helped over 2,000 home buyers. With an additional $250 million in funding from the California Legislature, CalHFA is hoping to help another 1,600 to 2,000 homebuyers in the second round of the program.

The registration portal and application window will be open from Wednesday, April 3, through Monday, April 29. Applications will be drawn randomly and the pre-approval letter is required and must be uploaded to the DFA program’s online portal along with other documents as instructed on the CalHFA website.

CalHFA will randomly select qualified applicants to receive a voucher. If an applicant’s name is drawn, they will have 90 days to find a home.

People interested in applying are advised to:

  • Talk to a CalHFA-approved lender of your choice, who is working with the DFA program. A list of approved lenders is on the website.
  • Work with your loan officer of choice to determine what you need to do to obtain your pre-approval Letter.
  • Get your required pre-approval letter now, so that when the registration portal opens on April 3, you will be ready.

The CalHFA Website has video and written explanations on all the steps to become a first-generation homeowner and build generational wealth.

To learn more, visit  For a list of approved lenders, visit  For credit counseling, visit


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(Sentinel News Service)