Affordability in San Diego: Are these two mutually exclusive?Real Estate Thursday, April 28th, 2016
Life is grand in San Diego. The sun is shining, winds are balmy and comforts are many. But can people with modest incomes afford to live here? Ever a challenge, we turn our attention this week to efforts to create affordable housing and opportunities for folks less fortunate than average.
The city’s programs are based on the establishment of what is called “Area Median Income” or AMI. Once the base median income is established, programs become available based on what percentage of that median the subject’s income represents. These medians are higher than one might expect: the San Diego AMI for 2 persons is $60,400, which means that if the qualification ceiling was 60 percent AMI, a couple with an income of $37,680 would qualify.
Now that we know the criteria, let’s look at some of the programs that are available to qualified applicants. There are currently six housing developments that may have units for sale. One example is Bella Rosa, a 42-unit condominium built in 2003 on Camino de la Rosa. Units are designated by AMI, with 12 permitting purchase at 60 percent or below, 15 at 70 or below and 15 at 80 or below. Another, Renaissance, located in popular North Park, is composed of 14 attached town homes with garages, and five are restricted at 100 percent or below AMI and nine at 110 percent. Of course, though affordability may be inherent, availability is not, and these units may rarely come on the market.
Other programs offered through the San Diego Housing and Redevelopment Agency assist residents in renovating their existing homes, in affording rental assistance, and providing assistance for first-time home buyers.
The latter offering provides financing up to $75,000 for first timers. The loans, called second trust deed loans, are on 30 year terms, have 0 percent interest and require no payments for the first five years. They enable buyers with limited funds for down payments to get started and to enter the marketplace. Eligibility is also tied to AMIs, but is rather liberal, allowing persons to qualify earning 120 percent or less of that figure. Another program called Home in the Heights is available to purchasers in the City Heights area and offers loans up to $30,000 that are forgivable over a 20 year period.
For qualified applicants who own homes but need funds to renovate them, the Housing Enhancement Loan Program offers funds to do so, which funds can be forgiven over a 10 year period. This program benefits both the homeowner and the neighborhood to eliminate blighted areas and eyesore properties. It is one of the ways affordability and aid can benefit residents in all income categories.
For individuals requiring rental assistance who are at 60 percent or less of AMI, “Section 8” provisions offer supplemental rent payments to Landlords. Families under this program pay about 30 percent of their total household income for rent. Public housing units are also available, but the need for both of these programs exceeds availability, and waiting lists are maintained.
These are some of the ways the city of San Diego is assisting in the creation and support of a diverse population. There is more needed, but these programs are a good start and help many deserving people in need.
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