One of the most expensive cities in the US is getting eight new affordable homes thanks to a new Habitat for Humanity San Francisco project that kicked off today. The project comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed some of the most deeply ingrained injustices in the United States, including the head of housing inequality. The end result will be eight townhouse-style apartments built under the direction of the Greater San Francisco Habitat Chapter.
“As we work to recover from this pandemic, now is the time to build more homes of all types and do whatever we can to make San Francisco a more affordable place to live,” Mayor London Breed said in an announcement for the project which House Beautiful will act as the national media sponsor.
The houses are located on Amber Drive in the Diamond Heights district on a piece of land that Mischa and Brigitte Seligman donated in memory of Mischa’s mother Maria Kolisch. Maria was one of the first residents in the neighborhood, whose many parks and cityscapes (thanks to the hilly terrain) and proximity to the city center make it a popular area.
“My mother worked a lot in San Francisco and she had a lot of friends – it was her community,” says Mischa House Beautiful. “She enjoyed it so much and wanted to give something back. I fully agreed and knew Habitat San Francisco is the best organization.”
The residents of the houses will be determined as part of a lottery that will open in September this year. As part of Habitat’s unique mission, the selected residents – along with Habitat volunteers – will invest 500 hours in building their own homes, which they will move into with a 0% mortgage and 0% interest rate from the non-profit organization. The housing costs of each family are limited to 30% of their respective income.
“It’s so important to our city that working families can continue to live in the place they know and love. So it’s great to see these affordable homes being built in Diamond Heights,” said Betsy Eddy, co-president the Diamond Heights Community Association.
“Living and living spaces are the most important part of a happy life,” says Mischa. “A decent roof over one’s head is a top priority for the stability of the family.”
Ultimately, says Mischa, he hopes the houses will offer something that many families struggling financially before and during the pandemic have missed: “The ability not to worry about housing and other aspects of their lives focus on those who are productive and happy. ”
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