New HEART film: Public/Private Partnership Success in South San Francisco

Meet Julie – she and her family have an new affordable home at 636 El Camino family housing in South San Francisco

This story is an inspiring example of a public/private collaboration among HEART, Genentech, MidPen Housing, the City of South San Francisco and San Mateo County.

San Francisco native Julie Soeganda had a good life: a husband who worked as a line cook, four children, a stable job as a library researcher with a law firm in San Francisco and an apartment they could afford in Daly City. That all changed when she was let go from her job of 11 years with no notice.

Everyone knows someone in the Bay Area who has been abruptly laid off, and tried to find another job in a competitive environment. Everyone knows someone who has been looking for work while the bills are piling up, and the bank account is dwindling. The Bay Area has just been ranked the “least affordable” rental market in the county by the Low-Income Housing Coalition with the average rent of $2,300 for a two-bedroom apartment.

Many families are one paycheck away from disaster, and that’s what happened to Julie and her children. After a year of job searching and unemployment they could no longer afford the in-law unit they were renting, and became homeless. The stress took a toll on the family, and Julie and her four children moved into First Step for Families in San Mateo, operated by InnVision/Shelter Network for four months, and then on to Family Crossroads in Daly City. They had shelter, but lots of stress on their family, no car and no full time job.

That’s when they “won the lottery” to be able to rent a 3-bedroom apartment at 636 El Camino Real, new affordable homes for families in South San Francisco. Over 2000 people applied for 108 units, and Julie still can’t believe they were chosen and now have a home.

HEART, the Housing Endowment and Regional Trust of San Mateo County received a $1M donation from Genentech for housing in South San Francisco in 2009. Because HEART is a public agency, they approached the City of South San Francisco and found out about the proposed project with MidPen. The early funds helped jumpstart the process and, four years later the apartments and finished and rented to families like Julie’s.

“I feel like I can finally breathe again,” she said. “All of my children are in stable schools or daycare, and because we have a permanent home, I can sign them up for afterschool activities. They’re all really thriving. Thank you to everyone who worked together to get these wonderful homes built”

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