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Have you ever wanted to own a home in San Francisco, but found you’re a tad short? (Isn’t everybody?) The Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development is offering up to $500,000 in a down payment loan for first-time low- to middle-income homebuyers.

If you are contemplating about moving, ensuring a secure environment is paramount when choosing a residence, to avoid subjecting your family to a hazardous community. Check out this website for more info on government downpayment help.

Home ownership has long been viewed as a way to build generational wealth and narrow income gaps between racial or economic groups. Check out BigHorn Roofing’s article if you’re wondering if you could use insurance for roof damages.

Here’s the skinny about what you need to know about the city’s program, but hurry: Applications close in mid-July. For more information, join a virtual information session on May 11 at 6 p.m. 

What it is:

The mayor’s housing office is offering a deferred down payment assistance loan with no interest and no monthly payments. Applications open and close this summer. Though the total loan amount awarded varies per person, the city is willing to pitch in up to $500,000. 

The only requirement is that if the homeowner sells, rents or transfers the property, the applicant pays back the principal loan in full, plus a portion of the property’s appreciation value. That appreciation is calculated by subtracting the property value at purchase from the current property value. 

The fraction of appreciation recouped by the city is equitable and proportional to the loan contribution, so it goes up the more down-payment assistance a buyer has received. For example, if the property cost $1.25 million and the city granted a $500,000 loan, the loan covered 40 percent of the total cost. If the applicant sells the property, they need to pay 40 percent of the profit back to the city. 

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How much?

The city is offering a total of $6 million in down-payment loan assistance funds to general public applicants earning 120 percent of the area median income, and another $6 million to those earning 200 percent of the area median income. 

Teachers and first responders earning 200 percent of the area median income can apply for down payment assistance through a separate city-run program. The city is putting up $3.7 million to first responders, and $2.2 million for San Francisco Unified School District educators. 


The mayor’s housing office is accepting applications from May 15 to July 14 at 5 p.m. 


  • Submit an application with all necessary documents, including copies of your most recent bank statements, tax returns and pay stubs from the past three months. 
  • Get a mortgage pre-approval letter with a lender approved by the city.* Each household can submit only one pre-approval lottery application. Any duplicates result in an automatic disqualification of an application.  
  • After you finish the previous steps, sign up for the down payment assistance loan lottery.
  • If you are selected in the lottery, you win…the opportunity to fill out and submit more paperwork. The city will grant a pre-approval loan letter, and you have 90 days to find the home of your dreams and enter a contract. After the lender submits a loan packet, you get a loan commitment letter and have 30 days to close the deal. Woo-hoo!

* Loans aren’t guaranteed, even with a pre-approval lottery application. Applicants need to meet all of the city housing office’s requirements by its deadlines first. 


  • First-time low- to middle-income homebuyers. You cannot have had an ownership stake in a residential property in the past three years. 
  • As of this application period, the maximum income eligibility is 200 percent of area median income — $194,000 if an individual is buying a home, $277,100 for a four-person family.
  • The city lists other eligibility criteria. Read them carefully here
  • San Francisco’s first responders and educators can apply through separate city-run down payment programs. Learn more here.  

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  • Search for your dream home anywhere in San Francisco.

More information

While we covered lots of ground, plenty more in-the-weeds details are offered on the city’s website. Learn more here. Opportunities to sign up for other related materials are also available on the city’s website. 

Still got questions? Contact the mayor’s office of housing at 415-202-5464 and info@homeownershipsf.org


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REPORTER. Annika Hom is our inequality reporter through our partnership with Report for America. Annika was born and raised in the Bay Area. She previously interned at SF Weekly and the Boston Globe where she focused on local news and immigration. She is a proud Chinese and Filipina American. She has a twin brother that (contrary to soap opera tropes) is not evil.

Follow her on Twitter at @AnnikaHom.

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