A place to call their own home

For the first time in her life, South City resident Julia Burton, 40, held the keys to her own home, a brand-new three-bedroom house on South San Francisco’s Commercial Street — and she helped build it herself.

After years of chasing low rents and sharing close quarters with relatives, Burton and members of four other families moved into new, below-market-rate homes Friday.

Peninsula Habitat for Humanity, which builds affordable housing in San Mateo County, picked the families from more than 100 applicants.

The terms of the deal? No down payment, no interest, and a mortgage that costs only 30 percent of the owner’s income.

“I’m no longer renting. I’m not throwing my money down the drain anymore,” Burton said. “My children will have their own room and we’ll be able to have people over.”

As part of the program, the families had to complete 500 hours of so-called sweat equity building their houses with other volunteers.

Ronnie Celio, who works for a shipping company in Emeryville, spent his weekends and vacation days installing windows, painting the exterior of the house, waterproofing, and laying shingles on the roof of his family’s new home.

Since moving from the Philippines 12 years ago, Celio’s wife and two children have shared a house with five other relatives.

Celios’ neighbors are also immigrants moving into their first home. Tito and Edith Arias work in South San Francisco and said they wanted to remain in the area so their three children could continue going to local schools.

“We worked very hard to provide homes for low-income families so they can get the feeling of the American dream,” said South City Mayor Pedro Gonzalez. “Some of them will have the opportunity to go buy larger homes later on.”

svasilyuk@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Bathhouses could reopen under new legislation

New ordinance would amend health code restrictions imposed in 1980s

Japanese American family at heart of beloved Golden Gate Park garden

The Japanese Tea Garden, the oldest public Japanese garden in North America,… Continue reading

Coronavirus cruise ship passengers head to California military base for quarantine

LOS ANGELES — American passengers evacuated from a cruise ship in which… Continue reading

Kicking off the budgeting process with the School Planning Summit

Last week I shared some information about SFUSD’s budget. I mentioned how… Continue reading

SF Lives: A ‘poverty scholar’ gives visibility to homeless people

Houseless, landless and unhoused are the preferred terms of Gray-Garcia and the people she’s aligned with in the POOR Media Network.

Most Read