Peninsula Families Moving Into Habitat Homes

Francesca Segre/KQED

The Schuellers check out the cabinets in their new home.

Home prices are surging again across the Bay Area, making it increasingly difficult if not virtually impossible for the majority of residents to buy a home.
But 36 working families on the Peninsula have found a way around the crushing costs.  And on Saturday, these families will get the keys to the homes they built and own through Habitat for Humanity.

Matthew and Shannon Schueller and their two daughters are one of the families moving into the affordable housing apartment complex at 7555 Mission Street in Daly City.

The Schuellers are moving from a two-bedroom apartment rental in Pacifica that they say wasn’t sealed well against the elements. Water, mold and dust got inside.
Their brand new three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in Daly City is a block from Colma BART, and it has a gas stove. They put in 500 hours of sweat equity to help build it.

“This is a step up, there’s more room, the fixtures are new, we can do what we want with it,” says Matthew Schueller. “We have our own washer and dryer, which is huge,” Shannon Schueller adds.

Shannon Schueller, who stays at home to care for their children, says there is no way they could have come up with the money to buy a home on her husband’s $60,000 annual salary. Through Habitat, they did not have to find a down payment, they got a no-interest loan and the sale price of the home is $350,000.

“It’s cliché to say, but it’s the American dream. It’s making something happen through your own work, your own determination,” says Matthew Schueller. “It’s nice to finally realize that your hard work has resulted in something that will be more than getting food on the table and clothes on their backs. It’s a roof and it’s great.”

But coming to terms with the reality of the economic pressures has not been easy for Shannon Schueller, who was born and raised in Pacifica. At one point, neither she nor her husband had a job, and they were living with their daughters at her parents’ home. Then they realized that a Habitat apartment was a real option.

“I never thought that we would be the people who needed the help. At first I was a little embarrassed, to be honest. Then I realized it was all families just like us. People just need the help these days,” she says.

Phillip Killbridge, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater San Francisco, points out that with the median home price in the San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo area at $585,000, the odds are stacked against many working families.

“It would take a family of four an income of $170,000 per year to be able to afford to own a home, notwithstanding the fact that they would have to cobble together a 20% down payment, have high credit scores, a low debt-to-income ratio,” says Killbridge. “It’s a virtually unattainable aspiration for so many people in our region.”

Nationwide 70 percent of households can afford to buy a median-priced home. In the Bay Area that figure is just 42 percent.


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