SF launches initiative to help first-time homebuyers 

The labyrinth of paperwork and agencies that first-time homebuyers in The City must navigate in order to receive help purchasing a residence may become simpler after an initiative is officially launched today.

There are numerous agencies that are available to help moderate- and lower-income residents in The City purchase a home. But for the first time, HomeOwnershipSF.org would put all those resources in a one-stop center.

The effort by the Mayor’s Office to start the program has been in the works for the past five years. This year, with the help of the Mayor’s Office of Housing, the new organization has raised nearly $500,000 for the new initiative.

The money will go toward a second aspect of the city services: providing  foreclosure counseling and loan program workshops.

“For the first time, there is housing stock accessible to lower- and moderate-income people, and the reason why people got into trouble in the housing market is because they went into it without knowing what they were getting themselves into,” said Myrna Melgar, director of homeownership programs in the Mayor’s Office of Housing.

San Francisco has one of the lowest rates of homeownership in the nation, with only 32 percent of residents owning a home, she said. Only 9 percent are able to buy a home on their own, Melgar said.

After the housing crisis that plagued the nation, many people have been afraid to buy homes, especially in San Francisco, where housing prices are higher. She noted that in The City, a family of four making $120,000 could get into a below- market-rate house — and the organization could help them.

“People are scared, and the vast majority in crisis today did not get education and counseling on the front end or get a safe and responsible loan,” said Christi Baker, executive director of HomeOwnershipSF.org. “Some believe it’s not possible and they don’t know where to go and get started. We hope this will get them started.”



In San Francisco, there are five primary types of affordable housing:

  • Housing built by nonprofit and for-profit development companies with funding assistance from local, state and federal sources
  • Affordable units integrated into regular market-rate developments due to San Francisco’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance
  • Public housing subsidized by federal government
  • Portable Section 8 housing vouchers used by families to subsidize rent in private real estate market
  • Single-room occupancy hotels purchased and renovated by The City in order to provide new permanent, supportive housing for homeless

Source: Mayor’s Office of Housing

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