City announces groundbreaking of affordable housing in Diamond Heights

New homes at 36 Amber Drive will provide housing and homeownership opportunity for eight San Francisco families, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity
May 20, 2021

Mayor Breed today announced the groundbreaking of a 100% affordable housing complex in Diamond Heights at 36 Amber Drive. Once complete, the building will consist of eight homes available for purchase for low- to moderate-income families, providing more housing for San Franciscans and an opportunity for families to become homeowners. The affordable housing that will be built on this site is the first City sponsored affordable housing partnership with Habitat for Humanity, and will expand the City’s growing affordable housing pipeline.

“As we work to recover from this pandemic, now is the time to build more housing of all types and do all we can to make San Francisco a more affordable place to live,” said Mayor Breed. “Thanks to the generous donation of this land and our partnership with Habitat for Humanity, this new complex will provide much-needed housing that will benefit San Francisco families for generations to come.”

The 36 Amber Drive parcel was donated to Habitat for Humanity (Habitat) by Mischa Seligman and his wife Brigitte, in memory of Mischa’s mother, Maria Kolisch. In the 1950s, Maria was one of the first residents of the newly created Diamond Heights neighborhood. In the winter of 2020, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) selected Habitat for Humanity of Greater San Francisco to lead development, of the affordable housing proposed for the site.

“High land costs and a scarcity of developable sites have made building new affordable housing in District 8 neighborhoods especially challenging. Nonetheless, I have made it one of my highest priorities to find affordable housing opportunities and new approaches to building and preserving affordable housing in the neighborhoods I represent,” said Supervisor Rafael Mandelman. “Infill affordable homeownership projects like 36 Amber Drive create a blueprint for how District 8 can get more homes that are affordable to middle and lower income San Franciscans. We need hundreds of 36 Amber Drives throughout San Francisco. Thank you to Mayor Breed, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development and Habitat for Humanity for working with my office and the neighborhood to bring affordable homeownership to Diamond Heights.”

In April 2021, MOHCD provided a critical $1.5 million investment that allowed the $7.9 million-dollar project to move forward. In addition to City funding, the development is benefitting from a number of other funding sources including CalHome and the Federal Home Loan Bank’s Affordable Housing Program.

“There was no one who loved San Francisco and its people more than my mother. It gives Brigitte and I such joy to know that these Habitat homes, being built on the site of her house, will allow more families to live in the city,” said Mischa Seligman, who donated the land at 36 Amber Drive in honor of his mother for the purpose of building affordable housing. “We are grateful to Mayor Breed, Supervisor Mandelman, the Habitat for Humanity team, and all of the residents of Diamond Heights for supporting this project.”

The land that 36 Amber Drive sits on previously held a single home and the construction of the new building will be an ‘urban refill’ project. The eight new homes, consisting of three-bedroom, two-bedroom and 4-bedroom units, will be built on the 6,414 square foot lot in Diamond Heights. Each family living at 36 Amber drive will have all electric appliances and utilities powered by rooftop solar panels as well as private outdoor space.

Construction will begin in late May 2021 and will be undertaken by Habitat’s professional construction staff together with hundreds of volunteers including the residents who will eventually live in the new homes. In September 2021, the project will be marketed on DAHLIA, the City’s Affordable Housing portal. The lottery winner households invest 500 hours building their homes alongside their neighbors. Each family benefits from a 0% down, 0% interest mortgage from Habitat and have their housing costs capped at 30% of household income. Eight first-time homebuyer families will be able to move in to the building in January 2023.

“This is an exciting time for affordable homebuilding in San Francisco. Getting homes built in our region isn’t always quick, and it isn’t always easy, but under Mayor Breed’s leadership the city now boasts a pipeline of construction at all affordability levels and for all family sizes,” said Maureen Sedonaen, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco. “The donation of land by Mischa Seligman, and his wife Brigitte, in memory of Mischa’s mother, Maria, is a shining example of the incredible generosity that powers Habitat’s work.”

“It is so important for our city that working families can continue to live here in the place they know and love, so it’s great to see these affordable homes being built in Diamond Heights,” said Betsy Eddy, Diamond Heights Community Association Co-President. “From the first community meeting, neighborhood residents overwhelmingly supported the concept and plan. This proves again that San Franciscans welcome homebuilding when it is done in a collaborative way and with homes designed to complement the character of the neighborhood in which they are built.”

Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco
Since its founding in 1989, Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco has built hundreds of homes in San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin. They have also undertaken hundreds of critical home repairs for seniors – making sure that they can continue to live in the homes they know and the communities they love. They are supported by an extensive network of individual and corporate volunteers and donors across San Francisco.

Steve Jacoby – naval aviator and United pilot – founded Habitat’s San Francisco chapter after being challenged to bring Habitat to the city by former first lady Rosalynn Carter. Even when Steve knew he would die from complications of AIDS, possibly before his effort bore fruit, he mobilized the entire community to start a Habitat for Humanity chapter in the last major city in the U.S. without a Habitat affiliate.