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Community, Housing

Free Home Repair for Low-income homeowners

Rebuilding Together Peninsula (RTP), in partnership with the City of San Mateo, provides free home repair and modifications to low-income homeowners in San Mateo through the Safe at Home program. Skilled technicians focus on repairs that improve the health and safety of residents and their home. Last year, the program helped and improved the living conditions of approximately 130 households across the Peninsula.

Who is Eligible?

Rebuilding Together's Safe at Home technicians provide needed home repair for families living in San Mateo and along the Peninsula

Rebuilding Together’s Safe at Home technicians provide needed home repair for families living in San Mateo and along the Peninsula

Community members with annual incomes up to $69,000 for a single-person household are encouraged to apply. Annual income requirements vary depending on household size. Repairs may include installing grab bars, handrails, and ramps, removing tripping hazards, installing new flooring, fixing electrical issues for adequate lighting, mitigating airborne toxins, and removing debris and clutter throughout the home. Safe at Home technicians focus on Seven Principles of Healthy Housing, keeping homes dry, clean, pest-free, safe, contaminate free, well-ventilated, and maintained. These principles drastically reduce health and safety threats residents face in the home.

One Family’s Story

One program recipient, Ilham, a single mother with five children at home, came to the program last year with significant deferred maintenance issues on her 86-year-old home. The house deteriorated from leaks due to an aging and neglected roof, electrical issues in the living room, toilet leaks, improperly functioning shower valves, and a front door that did not close properly.

Ilham worried most about leaks and water damage during the rainy season, as the kitchen and master bedroom ceilings bubbled down with water, with ceiling and fireplace leaks throughout, and gutters and downspouts that did not properly direct water away from the home.

Ilham worked hard to care for her family, yet her small income can barely cover monthly expenses. No extra funds remained for the maintenance of their home, let alone the high cost of critical repairs.

The Safe at Home technician team sealed leaks across the roof, applying asphalt sealer to all roof joints, fixed the malfunctioning living room lights, repaired toilet leaks and shower valves, and installed GFCIs in her kitchen so the family could remain securely in their home.

Without the help of RTP, Ilham would have to face another year of worrying for the safety and well-being of her family. The modifications provided by the Safe at Home program give Ilham not only peace of mind, but a safe and healthy home for her family.

To Apply

If you think you may meet the Safe At Home program requirements or have questions about eligibility, please download the homeowner or community facility applications or email or call (650) 366-6597 to request one.

Nonprofit organizations with facility repair needs are also encouraged to apply for RTP’s annual hallmark program, National Rebuilding Day. Please note RTP has an upcoming October 15 application deadline.


Workforce Housing on Delaware Street

Other than the traffic, one of the biggest topics of concern throughout the Bay Area is rising rental rates. In San Mateo, some options are becoming available for more affordable housing, including the workforce housing at 19901 - Delaware Pacific.jpg and 2000 Delaware Street. This community was welcomed with open arms as some much needed low-and-moderate-income housing in the community. To date, this is the City of San Mateo’s largest workforce housing project.

Built on the city’s old police station site donated by the City, the whole community is made up of 120 units with shared common areas aimed at housing a mixture of income groups. When this project was first proposed in 2008, there were sufficient affordable rentals for households with moderate incomes. Because of this, the intent of the project was not to fill a gap in the City’s housing market, but the goal was more social and community-oriented: develop a mixed-income project.

The community is pedestrian-friendly and transit-oriented. The apartments are within a short walk to Caltrain, SamTrans, and 7 - Delaware Pacific.jpgSan Mateo retail centers. The 2-acre property is unique in that it prioritized leasing to public sector employees, including employees of the City of San Mateo and the San Mateo/Foster City School District, by offering every third unit to these employees. This project came on-line in the midst of the current Bay Area housing crisis and took nearly a decade to come to fruition.

The project turned out to be more successful at creating a mixed-income community than originally thought as the market changed swiftly in the eight years since the project was proposed. Now, the mixed-income community is thriving and succeeding at bringing different income groups together.

There are two buildings in this new housing community each targeted at different income groups. 1990 Delaware was financed through a 20160708_144317_resizedvariety of government programs and targets families with incomes up to 60% of the area’s median income. This building was developed by Mid Pen Housing, a nonprofit housing developer. The second building, 2000 Delaware, was a public-private partnership between Westlake Urban and Palo Alto Partners to create workforce housing targeted at households whose income is up to 120% of the median, which is referred to moderate income.

The timing of this project is proving to be very beneficial to the community. Because households at all income levels are now impacted by the rental market, this project was a special opportunity to serve those who make more than allowed for the affordable properties, but still can’t afford the rising market rents. 2000 with artCurrently, there aren’t any government funding sources that address the income groups between 80-120% of the median. That middle range is sometimes referred to as “workforce housing,” so the City’s deal to provide land and agree to moderate income rents was unique and is continuing to be successful.

The deal for building this community was made in 2011, and since then the rental market has drastically changed. “Although 2000 Delaware was originally expected to have rents close to market for new construction, they are now below the market,” said Sandra Council, NeighboSynthesisrhood Improvement and Housing Manager for the City of San Mateo. “Because the City provided the land for the deal, these rents will be restricted over time. Their increases will be modest, tied to increase in incomes rather than the real estate market,” Council said.

Outside of this new housing is San Mateo’s newest public art installation. Synthesis is a sculpture created by husband-and-wife artists Jonathan Russel and Saori Ide of Ride Art. This kinetic/wind sculpture is 20-feet tall, stainless steel, and designed specifically for the housing project. The sculpture can be seen on South Delaware Street. The artists wanted the artwork “to give a sense of belonging to the people who live and work in the area by providing a place or a moment to reflect on their personal stories.” Ide said that the title of the sculpture, Synthesis, “is about bringing the community together.”

Community, Housing

Renting in San Mateo County

Live Streaming Town Hall: Tonight, February 22 – 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.

Renting in San Mateo County is becoming increasingly more difficult. Stories similar to today’s SF Gate headline, Burlingame woman, 97,  evicted after 66-years, are all too common. San Mateo County is amongst the most expensive places to live in the nation, and with skyrocketing rents, neighbors are squeezed out of the area.

Congresswoman, Jackie Speier has heard too many of these heartbreaking stories and is hosting a town hall discussion that will provide renters with an opportunity to share their stories with city and county officials. While those attending are invited to share their experiences, it also provides an opportunity to collaborate and begin to identify solutions.

San Mateo Mayor, Joe Goethals, Councilmember, Rick Bonilla, and Housing Manager, Sandy Council join County Supervisor, Dave Pine as well as ten other cities in San Mateo County including Belmont, Brisbane, Burlingame, East Palo Alto, Half Moon Bay, Hillsborough, Portola Valley, Redwood City, San Carlos, and South San Francisco, in tonight’s discussion.

The City of San Mateo has started a similar discussion within its own community by recently convening a housing task force that is considering topics around housing affordability. Tonight’s meeting encourages a broader county-wide conversation that is a reminder that all communities are impacted by the increasing cost of living in this area.

Tonight’s forum is striking a nerve with many throughout the County, so much that the event is at a capacity. To make it more widely available, the City of San Mateo is proud to sponsor the live streaming on PenTV. Watch it live tonight from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. 

Congresswoman Speier is looking forward to having a productive conversation about this difficult topic. If you are not able to participate in person, please tune into the conversation online or by watching on Comcast 26, Wave 27, or AT&T Uverse 99. Please share your comments or ideas to this blog post.