Housing Crisis

Low Profile Project Brings Affordable Housing to Ocean View Community

At the bottom of Capitol Avenue sits a narrow one-acre plot of land hidden behind Sagamore Street’s row houses. The long-unused land is now a construction site for 28 single-family affordable homes built by Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco.

Because of its low profile location below the freeway, the project, Habitat Terrace, hasn’t drawn much attention in a city that craves new housing.

The Habitat for Humanity site in Ocean View. 28 housing units are being constructed. (Will Carruthers: Ingleside-Excelsior Light)

The Habitat for Humanity site in Ocean View. 28 housing units are being constructed. (Photo courtesy of Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco)

At the bottom of Capitol Avenue sits a narrow one-acre plot of land hidden behind Sagamore Street’s row houses. The long-unused land is now a construction site for 28 single-family affordable homes built by Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco.

Because of its low profile location below the freeway, the project, Habitat Terrace, hasn’t drawn much attention in a city that craves new housing.

Lindsay Riddell, the director of marketing for Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco, found it “pretty insane” that the site was previously undeveloped.

Habitat Terrace is a byproduct of Summit 800, a 182-unit development on Brotherhood Way, south of Park Merced. Seventeen of the 28 units at Habitat Terrace are certified as below market rate housing and will count towards Summit 800’s affordable housing requirement.

“Habitat Greater San Francisco is always looking for ways to do more with less. At our Habitat Terrace development we forged an inventive partnership with Summit 800 to bring high quality affordable homeownership to the Western side of the city,” Riddell wrote in an email about the partnership.

Under the city’s below market rate definition, qualified families can only make up to 90 percent of the area median income, currently $91,700 for a family of four, according to the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development.

The other 11 units will meet the standards of the “Traditional Habitat Model,” a specification used by the nonprofit. Families that qualify for those units will need to earn between 40 and 60 percent of the area’s median income.

Qualified families will also need to complete 500 hours of volunteer work at the construction site before eventually receiving a zero percent interest mortgage and a mortgage payment equal to one-third of the family’s income.

The IT Bookman Center will be hosting an event about how to get housing at Habitat Terrace in July, according to Jackie Wright, the center’s executive director.

“We’re having a session to give everybody access. It is my hope that some black families would be involved,” Wright said.

Habitat bought the lot on June 20, 2012 and the houses will be finished by mid-2016, according to Riddell.

One Friday night in September 2014 a fire on the construction site burned down one of the framed houses and damaged the walls of a few adjacent homes. A fire report listed the cause of the fire as undetermined. Construction is now on schedule according to Riddell.

Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco has constructed 210 affordable housing units around the Bay Area during its 26-year history. The group is also currently working on a 10-house development in Novato.

Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco is separate from the international Habitat for Humanity group but benefits from their name. Interested parties should get more information at the Greater San Francisco website, not the international website.

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