Newsom, Mayor Breed tout local efforts to increase housing during affordability chat

California Gov. Gavin Newsom joined San Francisco Mayor London Breed at a San Francisco elementary school on Thursday for a conversation about housing affordability.

With the city in the midst of a housing and affordability crisis, the conversation, held at Francis Key Scott Elementary School, focused on citywide programs that help teachers and public safety professionals become homeowners.

“Sometimes there an additional amount of money that you need to put you over the hump, because the cost of living here and the cost of purchasing a home is very challenging for so many families,” Breed said.

In order to ease the burden for San Francisco families, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development offers several programs for low and middle-income San Franciscans seeking to own a home, like the Downpayment Assistance Loan Program and the Teacher Next Door program.

Joe Fazio, a San Francisco firefighter and native of the city, was able to buy a Silver Terrace neighborhood home just three months ago via a lottery system he entered through the MOHCD’s First Responders Down Payment Assistance Loan Program.

Fazio said, “I’ve had a lot of friends leave San Francisco, going as far as Idaho, to find affordable housing.

“There’s no way I would’ve been able to save up for a down payment. The amount need you need to compete in this market is just astronomical,” he said.

Cheryl Liu, a second grade San Francisco teacher, said she was able to buy a condo in the city’s Outer Mission neighborhood just last month, thanks to the TND program.

Because of the demand is so great, assistance programs for teachers and first responders require a lottery system. Liu said she waited three years before being chosen.

“You just keep pushing forward and keep trying and maybe you’ll get lucky. And I did,” she said. “I don’t have to worry about paying rent or being pushed out to the suburbs for something more affordable.”

According to Newsom, the housing crunch happening in San Francisco is also happening across the state, but several statewide efforts to increase housing are in the works.

He said his office is currently working on passing an anti-rent-gouging ordinance and setting aside $330 million to help California tenants facing eviction with legal support. Additionally, he said, he’s in support of State Bill 330, put forth by Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, which aims to streamline approvals for housing projects and encourage up zoning in areas where housing is scarce.

Newsom also highlighted $1.75 billion in the state budget, signed in June, to incentivize new home building.

“There’s a lot of more resources than there’s been in the past, but never have we had a challenge this big in our state’s history,” he said. “We can’t do this even at the state level alone, the federal government has got to get back into the housing business because urban and metro America is struggling with these issues.”

According to Breed, a $600 million citywide housing bond that she and the board of supervisors have placed on the November ballot, the largest in the city’s history, will help support the city’s loan assistance programs.

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