Habitat for Humanity to begin building homes in South City

When it rains it pours for Stacy Ball-Weaver, who was faced this week with a choice between gambling on her dreams of owning a home or taking the sure thing of a space in public housing.

One of about 100 people jammed into the Magnolia Senior Center in South San Francisco on Wednesday for a meeting on a new Peninsula Habitat for Humanity project, Ball-Weaver said she found herself in a predicament. After religiously checking Peninsula Habitat for Humanity’s Web site the last three years to find out when they’re building in South City, she received a letter last week from the San Mateo County Housing Authority saying her two-year wait for public housing had paid off and a three-bedroom, two-bathroom townhome in Daly City was hers to rent if she wanted it.

Using volunteer help and private donations, Habitat for Humanity offers homes to low-income families for no down payment and a zero-interest rate mortgage, allowing families to own a home. In their 17 years on the Peninsula, Habitat has built 93 homes and is in the process of building seven in Brisbane. They’ll begin the four homes on Commercial Avenue in South City by the end of August and have an eight-home project in Redwood City slated for early 2007.

The sticking point for Ball-Weaver is that to be eligible, applicants must have lived in South City a year. If she accepts the Daly City rental, she’s out of the running for a Habitat home.

“I picked a bad time to stop smoking!” she exclaimed at Habitat’s meeting. “I’ve been waiting so long for this. My life is here in South San Francisco but living here on the North Peninsula is hard.”

A Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., native, Ball-Weaver is 33 years old with a 16-, 15-, and 10-year-old living at home in their small apartment on Antoinette Lane in South City.

Before settling out here to live near her father, Ball-Weaver put herself through Nova Southeastern University in Miami, earning a bachelor’s in business management, and she is the sole breadwinner for her household as a construction office manager.

Those at the meeting Wednesday were told there would be a number of hoops they’d have to jump through in order to be eligible for a Habitat home, such as having a good credit history, household size, income range and housing history.

“There are a lot of documents and a lot of requirements, but it’s worth it,” Noemi Ruelas, Habitat’s homeowner relations manager, told the room.

If a family meets all the requirements and turns in all of the necessary paperwork, which includes tax returns, pay stubs and bank statements, it is still a matter of chance whether they are awarded a below-market-rate house. Those chosen are also expected to contribute “sweat-equity,” volunteer labor.

“We try to make this process as objective as possible,” Habitat spokeswoman Kara Smith said.

Ball-Weaver called the decision to turn down the rental home in Daly City “heartbreaking,” noting that it was a gamble.

“I’m a young mother and have been doing this by myself for years,” she said. “This community is everything to me.”

dsmith@examiner.com

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