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Helping Child-Care Providers Buy a Home

Public-private effort helps such entrepreneurs learn about financing and gives them special mortgage terms.

July 28, 1999|MARLA DICKERSON and LEE ROMNEY | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Rising real estate values have been a boon to many Southern California entrepreneurs, unless they happen to be in-home child-care providers struggling to pay soaring rents.

A new public-private initiative aims to give a boost to these micro-enterprises by helping some local family day-care providers purchase their most important business asset--a home.

The Los Angeles pilot program was organized by the Enterprise Foundation, a Maryland-based nonprofit working in conjunction with Bank of America, the city of Los Angeles and Freddie Mac.

Two local family day-care providers already have qualified for mortgages, and nearly 200 more have completed the mandatory financial training that is the first step toward approval. Down payments can be as low as $500.

In addition, portions of some home loans will be interest-free and won't have to be repaid until the property is sold.

Welfare-to-work has created a need for thousands of new day-care slots in the poorest neighborhoods of big cities such as Los Angeles. Yet entrepreneurs trying to serve this market face huge barriers, not the least of which is securing start-up capital for a low-paid profession such as child care.

Helping providers purchase homes where they can operate their businesses is one way to help stabilize the supply of child care where it's needed most, according to Michele Piel, head of the Enterprise Foundation's child-care efforts.

"When a provider is threatened by rising rent or the sale of her rental home, not only is her business at risk, but child care for all the moms using her is at risk," Piel said.

For more information on the pilot program, contact Ann Sewill of the Enterprise Foundation at (213) 833-7988.

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