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San Diego County program promises help for middle-income homebuyers and renters

A new program passed by San Diego County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday creates incentives to build affordable housing and provides help to homebuyers and renters.

People who work in the business of building and financing housing call it the 'missing middle.'

San Diego County Supervisor Joel Anderson framed the issue Tuesday morning. “With the average cost of housing in excess of $900,000 ... the average median income is not great enough, cause you need a quarter of a million dollars a year to afford a house that’s that expensive," he said.

That has meant ever-increasing numbers of workers either moving away or relocating to far-flung places, like neighboring counties or to Mexico. And that is not good for San Diego's economy.

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Lori Holt Pfeiler, president of San Diego Building Industry Association said, “A healthy economy requires a wide range of employment opportunities. To go along with those employment opportunities, we need a healthy housing market."

Holt Pfeiler and Anderson spoke at a news conference before Tuesday's County Board of Supervisors meeting. The board unanimously approved a plan directing county staff to develop a pilot workforce program to create incentives to spur the building of housing for rental and home ownership for people who fall into the 80% to 120% average median-income range. The housing would be deed restricted, so only people in that range would qualify to buy or rent it.

The program is expected to include a revolving fund that would loan money at very low interest to homebuyers and renters. As that money is paid back, it returns to the fund.

Undergirding the whole idea is between a public and private partnership.

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“Today the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce is proud to be here as part of those working alongside the county to create equitable housing solutions.  We look forward to helping to pave a better way for our region’s current and future workforce to stay here in San Diego," said Agneli Calinog, media relations manager for the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, one of the groups supporting the new plan.

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Supervisor Joel Anderson
Supervisor Nora Vargas addresses the media outside the County Administrative Center on September 27, 2022.

San Diego County Supervisor Nora Vargas said it's about more than staying here. It's also about building wealth.

“We know that home ownership is the single most powerful tool for closing the racial and ethnic wealth gap," Vargas said.

A proposed plan will come before the supervisors in six months.

  • The San Diego Board of Supervisors today declared homelessness a public health emergency. While the move won’t release additional funds to address homelessness, it will allow the county to focus resources on the health issues plaguing unhoused individuals.

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