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10 families to be selected for Habitat for Humanity affordable housing in Escondido

Zillow estimates the average price of a home in Escondido is $800,000. So it may not be not surprising that hundreds of families signed up for a chance to live in $300,000 homes being built by San Diego Habitat for Humanity — an opportunity open for 10 families.

“We had 270 applicants apply for those 10 spots," said Kwofi Reed, the president of San Diego Habitat for Humanity. "It's tough because the median price for a home in San Diego, as we all know, is $800,000 or so dollars. So for working families trying to make that leap into home ownership, it can be really tough."

The homes off El Norte Parkway are three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath duplexes. Reed said the homes are going to be priced affordably "for families that make 80% of the area's median income. So for a family of four, we're talking about a family that makes about $92,000.”

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Tania Thorne
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KPBS
Pictured, blueprints at the site of the El Norte Parkway development being built by San Diego Habitat for Humanity in Escondido, Calif. December 3, 2022.

Escondido council member Consuelo Martinez said she isn't surprised so many families applied for the chance at affordable housing.

“These families are living with their parents in multi-generational homes, waiting to be able to buy something affordable. And they're saving that money, but they just can't enter that market yet. So, this is really going to provide an amazing opportunity for some families in Escondido,” she said.

Martinez said the opportunity comes as she sees gentrification happening and pushing residents out of the city.

“I notice that a lot of the older homes are being purchased by investors. They’re being gutted and remodeled and sold at a really exorbitant price, so, it's really pricing out a lot of folks," she said. "It's something I'm really concerned about, I don't want my residents to be displaced.” 

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Although 10 affordable homes is a small feat, Martinez said it's a start in the right direction at having more affordable housing in Escondido — a start that Maribel Valle said many families hope for.

Valle is a family liaison at Mission Middle School in Escondido, and sent information about the opportunity to the families she works with, telling them, "You should apply, because I know the need in this community.”

As she was promoting the application, Valle realized she also had a need for an opportunity like this. She’s currently renting a room and doesn’t have the space for her children. “When I started looking at the requirements, I began to think of myself, too. I’m in that situation," she said. "So I did go through the application process.” 

Valle said if she is selected, it would change everything. "It would be beautiful to have my children back living with me, and its something that I am hoping for,” she said.

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San Diego Habitat for Humanity
Undated rendering of the finished El Norte duplexes being built by San Diego Habitat for Humanity in Escondido, Calif.

The board for San Diego Habitat for Humanity will review the applications and expects to have the families selected by the end of the year.

Reed said, “For us, what that means is, we get to pick 10 extremely qualified, hardworking families, that fit all the criteria that you’d like to see. But, it breaks our heart that we have to say 'no' to 260-plus, otherwise really qualified families, who also deserve this dream of homeownership."

In order to qualify, families must be in need of improved housing, willing to participate in the building of the home, and have a stable income.

The City of Escondido and the State of California each contributed $1 million for the project.

Reed says it's those partnerships, donors, and volunteers that make their mission possible.

“We have costs for our development that aren't as high as market rate, but they're pretty close. The difference for us is, we're not passing those costs along to our home buyers. We are working with partners to help make it affordable so that other people can get the dream of home ownership without having to pay $800 to $900,000 dollars for a home,” Reed said.     

He says the mortgages won't exceed 30% of the family's gross income.

That affordability allows families to be healthier, kids thrive in school, and can be a resource for the future.

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San Diego Habitat for Humanity
Undated rendering of the finished El Norte duplexes being built by San Diego Habitat for Humanity in Escondido, Calif.
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