The dream of owning a home may be closer to a reality for many more city Heights residents now that “Home in the Heights,” a first-time homebuyer program, has been expanded to include the entire City Heights Redevelopment Project Area.
Originally, the “Home in the Heights” program was only available to residents displaced by new school construction or redevelopment projects in City Heights. However, the Redevelopment agency and the City Heights Redevelopment PAC recently approved making the loan available throughout the City Heights Redevelopment Project Area.
“Using redevelopment tax revenue is a great way to help working families buy their first home. Using these funds to support home ownership and first-time homebuyers really strengthen existing neighborhoods,” said San Diego Councilmember Tony Atkins, whose Third District includes City Heights. “This program is one more step in the right direction toward solving the housing crisis in this community. We must continue to work to locate funds and develop creative ways to bridge the affordable housing gap in San Diego.”
The City will use redevelopment affordable housing dollars to fund silent-second mortgages of up to $15,000 per property to qualified borrowers and first-time homebuyers purchasing a house within the City Heights Redevelopment Project Area. First-time homebuyers are defined as applicants and/or spouse that have not had an ownership interest in a principle residence at any time during the preceding three years ending on the date the mortgage is executed.
The loan can be combined with other sources of funding contingent upon eligibility and circumstances of the applicant. Other sources include San Diego Housing Commission funds, up to $40,000, Price Charities funds, up to $35,000 (for those residents affected by certain development) and San Diego Unified School District relocation funds (for families displaced by school construction). The “Home in the Heights” budget is currently $350,000, funded by Redevelopment Agency tax revenue generated by the City Heights Redevelopment Project Area.
The City contracted Neighborhood Housing Services of San Diego to operate the “Home in the Heights” program. Neighborhood Housing Services manages the outreach, implementation and administration of the program as well as the monitoring throughout the life of the loan.
“Because this neighborhood had such low rents, most residents that were displaced by the new school sites would not have been able to transfer those dollars into a mortgage payment. The task of transferring these families, as well as other residents in the project area, into homeowners is a formidable one,” said Chuck Over-bee of Neighborhood Housing Services. “Without the Home in the Heights program and the work of the City’s Redevelopment Agency and Neighborhood Housing Services, as well as the combination of funding sources, it would not be possible.”
The Calzada family was recruited by the program after being displaced by the new public elementary school being built in the Cherokee Point neighborhood. The Calzadas were the first family to clear financing and escrow to receive the silent-second home loan and have now moved into their new home. “We were nervous because we don’t speak English very well and we had never made any efforts to buy a house before, but the staff (of Neighborhood Housing Services) was very helpful and provided a lot of guidance,” said Mrs. Calzada. “It’ nice to have the feeling of stability and security.”
Though “Home in the Heights” is now available to all City Heights Redevelopment Project Area residents, priority is specifically given to those households displaced by new public schools and redevelopment projects. Applicants are also subject to eligibility requirements and all applicable conditions and restrictions of the silent-second loan.
For more information on the “Home in the Heights” first-time homebuyer program and eligibility requirement, call Neighborhood Housing Services at (619) 282-1559. For information on other affordable housing programs in San Diego, call the San Diego Housing Commission at (619) 231-9400 or visit their web site at sdhc.org. To receive information on redevelopment in City Heights or other City of San Diego communities, call the Community and Economic Development Department/Redevelopment Agency at (619) 533-4233 or visit the City’s web site at www.sandiego.gov.