NCO Logo


Above: Koester Home During Construction | Koester Home Completed

CalHome Loan Program to Fund Approximately $1.375 Million for Home Rebuilding

Friday, April 6, 2018

After the devasting wildfires recently swept through Lake County, many fire survivors found themselves in need of assistance to rebuild their homes. Susanne Koester is one such survivor who lost her home during the Valley Fire. As the ashes settled, and like so many survivors, Susanne found herself underinsured. Thanks to the CalHome Loan Program, Susanne is now living in her beautiful, newly built home on Cobb Mountain. Susanne’s new home was built by Lake County Contractors and her CalHome loan covered the gap between her insurance payout and the cost of her rebuild.

“Between Lake County Contractors and the CalHome Loan Program,” said Susanne, “I felt secure and was able to overcome all my doubts about going through this process.”

The CalHome Loan Program is funded through the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). The program targets low-to moderate-income households who own or rented a home destroyed by the 2015 Valley Fire, the 2016 Clayton Fire, and most recently the 2017 Sulphur Fire. It provides a 30-year loan with 0% interest and is significantly easier to qualify for than a traditional mortgage or loan. Today, 26 escrows are open for active projects planning to utilize the CalHome Loan Program. Approximately $1.375 million in CalHome loans is expected to be awarded to eligible borrowers in Lake County by summer 2018. Hammers for Hope was awarded the full grant from HCD totaling $4.6 million, and North Coast Opportunities, Inc. (NCO) is the program operator. The grant is being drawn-down in smaller amounts as applications and projects are approved. Funds are still available to accept new projects.

“Hammers for Hope remains committed to helping people rebuild their homes despite any challenges we face,” adds Hammers for Hope Board Chairman Rob Brown. “This is the first time the CalHome Loan Program has been used for disaster response. We continue to work with local representatives like Senator McGuire, to create a solid and comprehensive system to support our community.”

The Hope City Crisis Network is another critical partner in the Lake County rebuilding efforts. Established in 1999 in Indiana, Hope City is a non-profit, faith-based humanitarian organization devoted to maintaining a holistic approach to disaster recovery, volunteerism, home rebuilding, and much more. During 2017, Hope City staff contributed over 21,000 hours of site work in preparation for over 400 volunteers to contribute 14,000 volunteer hours to Hope City’s construction work in Lake County. Hope City is devoted to helping at least 25 fire survivors return home in 2018, and they have already contributed over 6800 hours this year. 5 stick-built homes are scheduled to be completed in April with an additional 7 homes slated to begin in the coming months. In addition, at least 10 Homes Direct manufactured homes will be installed this year. According to Melissa Hughes, NCO’s Housing Programs Manager, “Hope City is making these rebuilds possible for our low-income clients due to the enormous volunteer labor they contribute, which significantly drives down the cost of the home rebuild, making this entire effort possible.” Through Hope City the approximate average cost for a stick-built home is about $80,000, and the approximate average cost of a Homes Direct manufactured home is less than $90,000.

“We are experiencing a tremendous collaborative effort throughout the county,” said NCO Executive Director Patty Bruder. “NCO can provide administrative resources and infrastructure, but we are dependent on the expertise of Hope City and Hammers for Hope to help survivors return home. We’re all in this together.”

Funding is still available for the CalHome Loan Program and anyone who thinks they might be eligible is encouraged to contact one of NCO’s Disaster Case Managers at 707-994-2910 and complete a preliminary application.

If you would like more information about CalHome, Hope City, or Hammers for Hope, please contact Melissa Hughes at 707-994-4647 ext. 124 or by email at

About Hammers for Hope

Hammers for Hope was established in 2012 as a California non-profit organization based in Lake County. They were founded to assist seniors, low-to moderate-income individuals and families, and people with disabilities, in making minor home repairs to improve their comfort and safety. After the fires, Hammers for Hope shifted focus to help those in need of rebuilding. Hammers for Hope is a collaborative effort made possible by the work of local contractors and community volunteers with major funding provided by Calpine Corporation and assistance from Kelseyville Lumber. The Hammers for Hope founding Board members are Rob Brown, Danielle Matthews-Seperas, Mark Borghesani, Debra Sommerfield, and R. Steven Brown.

For more information about Hammers for Hope or to apply for assistance, donate, or volunteer, go online to