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Having previously only met on a computer screen during a Zoom call, future neighbors, Lynn and Fernando were happy to finally meet in person at our Amber Drive construction site. As prospective homeowners they are completing what will ultimately be 500 hours of sweat equity. After a welcome and safety briefing from foreman Mike, they were soon heading across to building ‘B’ to start work.
Working alongside a team of Habitat volunteers Lynn was tasked with measuring and cutting wood using a huge circular saw, that she was using for the first time, while Fernando went upstairs to install and tighten bolts on the upper floors.
“My home is here, my network is here and, as a single mom, that network is really important. I am a nutrition counsellor and my business is right here in the city.”
“I started working with the Mayor’s housing office and it was through them – their below market rate program – that I found out about this Habitat opportunity.”
“I then did financial counseling and that really helped me get ready for homeownership.”
Has Lynn had any previous construction experience? “No,” she laughs, “but I love to learn and I use power tools a lot at home for repairs and things.”
Fernando, on the other hand, seemed to know his away around a site and impressed the crew with how rapidly he picked up his tasks.
“I actually worked in construction for about a year for a contractor who was building a house,” confessed Fernando about his skills. “I also grew up on a farm around construction equipment!”
“I made a note that, if I need something, I’m going to ask Fernando!”
“Our building was sold after 24 years of living in Noe Valley,” says Fernando, “so we signed-up for the Mayor’s office of housing list and started getting announcements for homes that were in our income range.
“And when we learned the story behind the building, and the lady who was the donor, we were really excited to be a part of it.”
When completed later this year eight families will be moving in to the homes in the Diamond Heights neighborhood. Like all Habitat Greater San Francisco homeowners, Lynn and Fernando will benefit from a $0 down, 0% interest mortgage and have payments capped at no more than 30% of gross household income when they move in.
When these homes at Amber Drive are complete later in 2023, it will mark the fulfillment of a bequest by Mischa and Brigitte Seligman, whose generous donation of the land for the homes was made in honor of Mischa’s mother Maria Kolisch. Maria wanted to make sure more families would have the opportunity to stay in the city she loved so much.
As Lynn says: “it’s all about stability”