| SAN FRANCISCO, March 18
SAN FRANCISCO, March 18 San Francisco has
doubled the amount of money it will lend to middle-class home
buyers to help with down payments in a merket where an influx of
high-paid technology workers has pushed prices up, city
officials said on Tuesday.
Starting this month, the city will offer interest-free loans
of up to $200,000 to first-time buyers for down payments on
market-rate San Francisco homes, which have a current sale price
median of more than $800,000, said Maria Benjamin, Director of
Homeownership and Below Market Rate Programs for the city.
She said $2 million is available for the program annually.
"Given the high cost of homes in today's market, a higher
loan amount is need(ed) to enable low to moderate income
borrowers to keep up with market conditions, especially
families," San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee's office said in a
The move is the latest by city officials to address growing
concerns that the city is becoming unaffordable to all but the
very wealthy, intensified in recent years by the region's
booming dot-com industry, Lee's office said.
Several times in recent months, protesters angry about
housing costs have blocked Google Inc and other
commuter buses that ferry an estimated 45,000 workers daily
between their homes in San Francisco and dozens of technology
companies based in Silicon Valley, south of the city.
San Francisco's bolstered loan program will be limited to an
annual $2 million from a housing trust established in 2012 that
was also doubled in March from $1 million, Benjamin said. First
responders in the city will have access to an additional $1
million in available down payment assistance.
The program is aimed at helping people who make too much to
qualify for the city's affordable housing but are still
considered to be low or moderate earners, Benjamin said.
To qualify, applicants should make no more than 120 percent
of the region's median income. For a family of three, this would
be $104,900, Benjamin said.
Loan recipients are not required to pay the loan back until
40 years after it is issued or when the home is sold or
refinanced. At that point, the loan and a portion of the
appreciation value will be due, Benjamin said. There will be no
interest on the loans.
Under the previous program, which capped the loans at
$100,000, applicants received about $80,000 on average in a down
payment loan from the city, Benjamin said.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston)