Home ownership up in state, county | TheUnion.com

Home ownership up in state, county

Paced by Hispanics, home ownership rates rose for Californians of every race during the 1990s, though costly real estate meant that owning a home here was a dream more elusive than most other states.

Across the state, nearly 57 percent of people owned the home where they lived in 2000 – compared to 66 percent nationally. A decade earlier, the California rate stood at 56 percent – the national average was 64 percent.

In Nevada County, 76 percent of people owned their home in 2000, up from 75 percent in 1990, according to U.S. Census figures.

The county has the second-highest percentage of owner occupied homes in the state, behind only Calaveras County.

The figures sound encouraging but are part of an underlying problem – middle-income working people have trouble finding affordable housing to purchase. Many times, they make too much to qualify for housing assistance programs, and the homes available are also priced too high for the assistance.

“We have priced ourselves out of providing housing for work force people,” said Jeannie Tofanelli, mortgage broker for Central Pacific Mortgage in Grass Valley.

The median home sale price in Nevada County reached $274,475 in February, up from $222,900 in February 2001.

The high percent of homeowners versus renters reflects home prices that are too high to rent houses out for a reasonable price and still make the payments and taxes, said Paul Norsell, part of the Workforce Housing Project that began in 2000.

The construction of rental apartments and condominiums has not kept up with demand, so people either get the money together to buy or move elsewhere, said Norsell, executive director of the Nevada County Business Association. The association is teaming up on the project along with the Economic Resource Council, the Grass Valley/Nevada County Chamber of Commerce and the Nevada County Contractors Association.

While California was losing ground to the rest of the country, Hispanics were gaining ground in California, according to Census Bureau figures released Wednesday. Homeownership rates rose among Asians, blacks and whites – but the rise among Hispanics jumped out of the new data.

In 2000, 44 percent of Hispanics owned their own homes – up from 40 percent in 1990. Nationally, the Hispanic homeownership rate grew from 42 percent in 1990 to 46 percent.

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