San Francisco is known for its high cost of living, particularly when it comes to housing. The city’s expensive housing market has been a major concern for years, and it’s not surprising that many people find it difficult to afford a home in the city. However, what many people don’t know is that San Francisco has several programs for first-time homebuyers with low to moderate incomes, including downpayment assistance.
The importance of these programs cannot be overstated, as coming up with funds for a downpayment is often one of the most significant barriers to homeownership. For example, one of these programs is the Downpayment Assistance Loan Program (DALP), which provides a no-interest, 30-year deferred loan to eligible households. This program has enabled many low to moderate-income families to afford a home that they would otherwise not have been able to purchase.
According to the mayor’s office of housing, from July 2021 through June 2022, the DALP program helped 67 low to moderate-income households, distributing over $19.9 million. The program anticipates serving up to 70 households between 2022 and 2024.
Despite the benefits of the DALP program and other similar initiatives, the reality is that San Francisco still faces a housing shortage. The city must build 82,000 housing units over the next eight years as part of a state-mandated plan. Unfortunately, new housing construction in 2022 declined by 46% from 2021, according to the city’s planning department.
It’s also worth noting that San Francisco’s housing programs geared toward first-time homebuyers have not been serving a large Black population, with only five Black people benefiting from the DALP program in the last five to six years, according to Saidah Leatutufu-Burch, the director of the city’s Dream Keeper Initiative (DKI). She explained that the program’s lottery system that randomizes who gets the financial aid is one reason for this, but some Black people have also not applied because they feel they don’t belong.
To address this issue, the DKI was created, a city initiative to reinvest $60 million annually into San Francisco’s Black community. Since its launch in 2021, DKI has helped 19 Black people purchase homes in the city through its own down-payment assistance program.
It’s crucial that these housing programs are accessible to a wide variety of people, as they play an essential role in creating a home in San Francisco, building housing stability, and planting roots in the city. Anne Stanley, a spokesperson with the mayor’s office of housing, emphasized that these programs are vital in ensuring equitable and achievable homeownership.
The mayor’s office of housing plans to open applications for the 2023 DALP program soon, and people can sign up for email alerts to stay informed. Meanwhile, Mayor London Breed recently introduced legislation designed to speed up the process of approving new housing projects, which could help address the city’s housing shortage.
In conclusion, while San Francisco’s expensive housing market remains a challenge, the city’s secret programs for first-time homebuyers with low to moderate incomes provide hope for many families. These programs can enable families to afford a home that they would not have been able to otherwise, and they play an essential role in creating more equitable and achievable homeownership opportunities. By ensuring that these programs are accessible to a wide variety of people, San Francisco can continue to build a more stable and thriving community for all.