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Assistance Programs

Developer Financing and Incentives

  • Affordable Housing Development Financing Program - The San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) provides low-interest loans to help developers acquire, rehabilitate and build long-term affordable housing. (San Diego Housing Commission)

First-Time Homebuyer Assistance

First-time homebuyers are San Diegans who have not owned a home in the past three years. They must also meet income-elgibility requirements.

  1. 3% Interest, Deferred-Payment Loan - Buyers earning no more than 100 percent of the San Diego area median income may qualify for a deferred-payment, second trust deed loan of up to 17 percent of the purchase price, with the interest rate set at 3 percent. No payments are required for 30 years, unless the owner sells or no longer occupies the home; at which time the principal balance, including accrued interest, must be repaid. To qualify, the buyer must obtain a fixed-rate, first trust deed loan; have adequate income and a good credit rating; and provide minimum down payment of 3 percent.
  2. Closing Cost Assistance Grant - Buyers earning no more than 80 percent of the San Diego area median income are eligible for up to $15,000 of 4 percent of the purchase price, whichever is less. Buyers earning up to 100 percent of the area median income are eligible for up to $10,000 or 4 percent of the purchase price, whichever is less. Grants must be repaid if the home is sold, refinanced or no longer owner-occupied within the first six years, after which they are forgiven.
  3. Mortgage Credit Certificate - Qualified homebuyers with icome not exceeding 140 percent of San Diego area median icome may claim a federal income tax credit. Buyers earning 80 percent of San Diego's area median income or less o buying in a specified neighborhood may claim a tax credit of 20 percent of the annual interest paid on their mortgage; all other buyers receive a tax credit of 15 percent. The reduced tax burden helps the buyer qualifty for a mortgage because it boosts net earnings. Buyers may have to repay the tax if they sell the home within the first nine years.

For more information about First-Time Home-buyer Assistance programs, please visit the San Diego Housing Commission website.

SDHC Property Rehabilitation Programs

SDHC's "Home Safe home" program focuses on remediation such as:

  • Removing or neutralizing toxic lead paint at homes occupied by children age 6 or younger
  • Identifying and remediating other health and safety issues in single-family homes
  • Making health and safety improvements for mobile home owners.

Only low-income homeowners and landlords with low-income units within the City of San Diego are eligible for assistance, which includes:

  • Zero-interest, deferred-payment loans up to $15,000 for single-unit properties occupied by very low-income owners; no loan payments are required until the property is sold or new loans are made against the property.
  • Mobile Home Repair Grants up to $5,500 for health and safety repairs.

The "Home Safe Home" program also targets eight former redevelopment areas with deferred payment loans of up to $10,000 at 3 percent interest, forgivable over 10 years:

  • City Heights
  • College Grove
  • Crossroads
  • Grantville
  • Linda Vista
  • North Park
  • San Ysidro
  • Southeastern Part of the City of San Diego

The "Home Safe Home" program also conducts lead paint remediation in qualifying homes that were built before 1979. Maximum grant amounts are:

  • $10,000 for single-family structures
  • $5,000 per unit for multifamily structures. An additional $5,000 per project will be made available for multifamily projects to control lead hazards in common areas.
  • Once a property qualifies for remediation, property owners are required to competitively bid their projects and to select the lowest responsive bid. If the program budget is insufficient to cover total project costs, the property owner will be required to provide supplemental funding.

SDHC Rental Assistance

Housing Choice Voucher" Program

The largest program administered by SDHC provides rent subsidies to low-income families through the federal Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) program. Funded by HUD, the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program currently helps 14,626 low-income households pay rents they can afford.

About 55 percent of HCV households are seniors or persons with disabilities. Voucher recipients generally pay between 30 percent and 40 percent of their adjusted monthly gross income in rent.

More than 1,200 voucher households rent directly from SDHC, which owns about 1,800 rental units in the City of San Diego. There are 5,665 landlords in the City of San Diego who participate in the HCV program, providing private-market residential housing to HCV program participants.

In awarding HCV rental assistance, SDHC gives preference to applicants who are families of two or more people that include a dependent, an individual age 62 or older, a veteran, an active U.S. military service member, or homeless persons. Applicants who live or work in the City of San Diego also receive preference.

About 41,000 people are on the waiting list to receive HCV rental assistance.

Affordable Rental Housing

SDHC published an informational guide on its website called "Creating Affordable Housing Through Innovative Financing: 2007-2013."

This guide details the creation of 810 additional affordable housing rental units in the City of San Diego, the result of an entrepreneurial investment strategy implemented by SDHC. In 2007, working with HUD, SDHC received approval to transfer out of the Public Housing Program and assume full ownership and operating authority of 1,366 units at 137 sites. Through an innovative Finance Plan approved unanimously in 2009 by the San Diego Housing Authority and the SDHC Board of Commissioners and endorsed by Mayor Jerry Sanders, SDHC raised $95 million in low-interest Fannie Mae and FHA mortgages by leveraging the equity in 1,254 housing units granted to SDHC in a 2007 agreement with HUD.

Partnering with SDHC in developing the Finance Plan and securing the loans were Keyser Marston Associates, NorthMarq Capital, PNC Real Estate and Greystone Servicing Corporation. Portions of the funding take advantage of the federal Build America Bonds program, which offers an annual 35 percent interest rate rebate for the full term of the loans.

SDHC has invested in six public-private partnerships, in which SDHC purchased the land and provided a loan and ground lease to the developer. After the 15-year tax credit compliance period, SDHC will have the option to buy any of the six public-private partnership properties. In addition, SDHC has also purchased four properties. In total, SDHC has created an additional 810 affordable housing units-all required to remain affordable for at least 55 years.

Condominium Conversion Tenant Assistance

Condominium Conversion Tenant Assistance Program

When San Diego's rental vacancy rate is below 7 percent, occupants of housing units being converted to condominiums who receive a notice to vacate and who have an income below the area median income are eligible for relocation/down payment assistance equal to 3 months current rent. (San Diego Housing Commission)

Additional Resources

For more information about SDHC's assistance programs and services, visit