Affordable-housing fund might become loan aid

City officials are creating another way for low- and moderate-income residents to tap government money for down payments of new homes.

Today, city supervisors will consider amendments to the current inclusionary zoning ordinance as proposed by Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor David Chiu.

Currently, developers who are building five or more units must make 15 percent of their units affordable for low- and moderate-income households in San Francisco.

Should the developer opt to construct its affordable units “off-site,” the construction requirement is 20 percent. Developers can opt to pay an in-lieu fee instead of constructing units. Those fees range from $248,210 for a one bedroom to $374,712 for a three bedroom, according to the Mayor’s Office of Housing.

On average, in-lieu fees generate $5 million annually, which The City then uses to build more affordable housing.

But with the downturn in the economy, it seems more efficient to use that money to assist low- to moderate-income residents with buying homes rather than spend it on building more homes that people cannot afford, officials said.

The goal is to get more people into affordable housing, and offering down-payment assistance is the best way to achieve that now, said Doug Shoemaker, the mayor’s housing adviser.

“The price of homes has fallen and it’s very cost-effective now to buy with a down-payment assistance,” Shoemaker said. “It accomplishes our goal, which is to get people into affordable housing.”

esherbert@sfexaminer.com

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