Construction is complete on Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco’s latest affordable homes in Diamond Heights. Our community joined together on Saturday, December 2, 2023 to celebrate the completion of these homes and the eight families embarking on first-time homeownership.
Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco presented eight local families with the keys to their new homes during a special home dedication ceremony held on December 2, 2023. The families were joined by more than 65 guests, including volunteers, representatives from the city, well-wishers and their soon-to-be neighbors as they prepared to move into their new homes – homes they helped build.
Home dedications are a huge milestone at Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco. It’s the time when we bring the community together to welcome new homeowners into their homes and neighborhoods. These are special days; they signify the start of a new chapter for the families as they embark on homeownership. For Habitat Greater San Francisco families, that means permanently affordable homeownership, with a housing payment capped at 30% of their household income at time of purchase, a 0% interest loan and $0 down payment.
At the center of every home we build are our partnerships. With these homes in San Francisco, from the inception of the project through to the last coat of paint, our partners have been vital in bringing these homes to life. The crowd of supporters and community members heard from a selection of them including local Pastor Theresa Cho and Director of San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, Eric Shaw.
And a home dedication would not be complete without hearing from a partner family. Kristen, who is moving into her new home along with her two sons, shared with us what homeownership means to her, “To me, homeownership isn’t merely about possessing a physical space or a set of keys to a front door; it’s about belonging, about setting down roots. As I stand here today, on the brink of this new chapter at Amber Drive, I reflect on the twists and turns that brought me to this moment—a moment that embodies not just a new house, but a sense of home.”
Habitat Greater San Francisco is bringing affordable homeownership to the heart of Diamond Heights. The land donor, 99 year old Mischa Seligman, was honoring the wishes of his mother who loved San Franciscans and wanted to give back to the city she loved dearly. This development is a prime example of ‘urban infill’. These homes were developed with generous partnership from Kerman Morris Architects whose innovative design creates 8 homes on land which previously held only one. This type of development has the potential to make a significant contribution to addressing California’s acknowledged housing shortfall.
The homes on Amber Drive received a Platinum Green Point Rating and are modeled as net zero energy – meaning they are designed to use less energy than they consume.
Our partner, Kerman Morris Architects, worked with us diligently to incorporate design elements from the surrounding Eichler homes in the neighborhood.
Thanks to the generosity of the late Mischa and Brigitte Seligman, who honored the wishes of Mischa’s mother, Maria Kolisch, the land that housed her single-family home, now enables eight local families to call Diamond Heights home.
Debra, a San Francisco resident since the late 1960s, is moving in with her two elementary school-aged grandchildren. Previously, she has experienced issues with an unresponsive landlord not making necessary repairs which impact their quality of life, as she put it, as a homeowner she is excited to “be the captain of my own ship.”
Mischa Seligman was a retired electrical engineer whose mother, the late activist Maria “Mitzi” Kolisch, lived at 36 Amber Drive in San Francisco for many years. Mischa was determined to carry out his late mother’s wishes to leave her legacy on the city she loved by donating her Diamond Heights house so that more families could make a home in San Francisco.
What was a single-family home on a hillside parcel will now become eight 3- and 4-bedroom townhomes, built by Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco. “She wanted to give something back to the people of the City. I do brag a little bit about that this little house becomes 8 family units and I am very happy about that,” said Mischa about his mother’s home.
We are so pleased that Mischa was able to see construction work begin on this land on Amber Drive before he passed at the age of 101 in April 2022. His extraordinary generosity leaves a legacy for generations of families in San Francisco.
A permanent tribute to his mother, Maria, is now prominently displayed on the outside of the development. The plaque, cast in bronze, features a bas-relief image based on a photo of Maria taken by famed San Francisco photographer Imogen Cunningham. This is just one way that we will make sure that the wonderful story of this special family, and history of this unique home, will be passed on to generations to come.
“My mother wanted to give something back to the people of the City. I do brag a little bit about that this little house becomes 8 family units and I am very happy about that.”
You can help make the dream of homeownership a reality for more families by supporting more homes like this.