Home for sale
A home for sale in Hillcrest in December. Staff photo

The San Diego Housing Commission on Thursday began a pilot program to assist middle-income Black, Indigenous and people of color who are first-time homebuyers.

Homeownership rates for many households of color in San Diego are significantly lower than other racial groups, according to a study by the Urban Institute sought by the commission. Researchers found ownership rates of 29.1% among Black households and 35.2% among Latino households, compared with 54.8% among white households.

“Middle-income residents are often overlooked, but this program invests in creating more access for first-time homebuyers of color,” said San Diego City Council President Pro Tem Monica Montgomery Steppe, co-chair of the City-County Reinvestment Task Force.

The new pilot program is supported by a $7.5 million Wealth Opportunities Realized Through Homeownership grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation and a $184,000 grant from the National Fair Housing Alliance.

The program offers two options for assistance: $40,000 in total assistance, consisting of a $20,000 deferred loan toward the down payment and a $20,000 grant toward closing costs; or $20,000 grant toward the down payment and closing costs.

It is intended to assist BIPOC households with income up to 150% of San Diego’s Area Median Income – $175,200 per year for a family of four.

“As we all have seen, housing prices have surged in recent years to levels that have frozen out many families from being able to purchase a home,” said San Diego City Council member Vivian Moreno, chair of the council’s Land Use and Housing Committee. “However, with this $7.5 million grant, we are moving (in) the right direction by providing 5,000 families of color the opportunity to buy their first home, which to most people seems unattainable right now.”

The commission’s existing first-time homebuyer program for the city of San Diego remains available, for households that make up to 80% of the Area Median Income, currently $110,250 per year for a family of four.

More than 6,000 households have achieved homeownership since 1988 through the commission’s first-time homebuyer and affordable for-sale housing programs in San Diego.

Through homebuyer programs in the city of San Diego, home ownership became possible for 126 households from June 30, 2020, through June 30, 2022. Of those, 74% were Latino; 14% were White; 9% were Asian; 2% were Black, and 1% were multiracial.

“All San Diegans deserve to be able to have a home to raise their families here – and this small step helps to right some of the wrongs of the past that excluded the BIPOC community from the generational wealth that home ownership provides,” County Supervisor Joel Anderson, co-chair of the Reinvestment Task Force, said.

– City News Service