Affordable Housing Week Comes to San Francisco

2 05 2016

For details for each of San Francisco’s Affordable Housing Week 2016 events, see here.

CHP's Richardson Apartments, one of the stops on our upcoming bike tour!

CHP’s Richardson Apartments, one of the stops on Saturday’s upcoming bike tour!

The coming week is Affordable Housing Week here in San Francisco – an annual event with activities throughout the Bay Area.

We spend a lot of time calling for more affordable housing. The need for affordable housing is deep and growing rapidly, as more and more San Franciscans find they can’t afford housing produced on the market.

But there’s a new rumble of voices asserting that our systems for building affordable housing are outdated and broken.

These voices are wrong.  We desperately need more affordable housing, yes, more funding, and even more importantly, we need leadership and vision by elected leaders.  But in San Francisco we actually have a host of proven solutions, and the policies that we’ve developed and are continuing to develop have produced real results.

In light of all this, CCHO and the affordable housing community across the Bay Area are taking a moment to raise awareness around the advocacy and solutions that exist right here at home with Affordable Housing Week 2016.  This is an opportunity for San Franciscans to get a deeper glimpse into affordable housing, and really understand the issue that’s dominating every headline in our city.

Over the past 40 years, San Francisco has taken a lead in affordable housing, both in policy and in actual implementation.  Nearly 30,000 units of permanently affordable housing built, another 3,000 acquired and converted to affordable, several thousand protected SRO units, and nearly 2,000 below-market Inclusionary units. And this has continued up to the present.

TNDC Mosaica 1

The bike tour will also include TNDC’s Mosaica Senior & Family Apartments.

In 2012, SF voters established a Housing Trust Fund, setting aside $20 million annually (and incrementally growing to $50 million in year 15) to support a variety of affordable housing programs for low and moderate income San Franciscans, including a $15 mil new investment for first-time homebuyer assistance.  In 2014, we set a goal and a monitoring system to achieve a minimum benchmark of 33% affordable housing production citywide, and in 2015, we prioritized underutilized public sites for affordable housing AND voted through a $310 million bond for affordable housing. And now, responding to the dramatic surge in the real estate market, San Franciscans are set to vote on adopting the highest inclusionary housing policy in the State, requiring developers to produce 15% low-income and 10% middle-income units in every development over 25 units. These are real solutions.

What does all this mean on the ground? Since 2002, when we passed our first inclusionary ordinance with a 12% requirement, we have created over 2,000 low- and moderate-income units, affordable to families earning from $55,000 to 90,000/year. Since 2012, when we passed the Housing Trust Fund, San Francisco has built roughly 700 units per year, providing quality homes for people at all income levels who are unable to afford San Francisco’s astronomical market-rate rents. These are real projects, scattered throughout the city, some of the best architectural design and the highest quality service-enriched housing anywhere in the country.  San Francisco has also commenced with one of the most comprehensive public housing rehabilitation programs in the country, one that guarantees one-for-one replacement units and a right-to-return to all current tenants.

As part of San Francisco’s Affordable Housing Week 2016, CCHO, along with SPUR and architect David Baker, will be leading an affordable housing bike tour this Saturday May 7th, where you can see a number of these buildings and meet architects, community organizers, and tenants, from Chinatown to SoMa to Hayes Valley to the Mission. We’ll look at senior buildings, family buildings, and even mixed-income buildings with on-site inclusionary units and we’ll talk about the community struggles that made these buildings possible.

todco Mendelsohn garden

The garden at TODCO’s Mendelsohn House, another stop on Saturday’s Affordable Housing Bike tour.

Despite the success we have had so far, this is clearly not the time to rest on our laurels. The need for affordable housing IS growing, and we do need more support and more funding. To learn about the steps the affordable housing community is taking to address the housing crisis, come to this week’s two Affordable Housing Week lunchtime forums, sponsored by CCHO and SPUR. On Tuesday May 3rd, policy advocates from throughout the Bay Area will speak on plans for expanding funding for quality affordable housing, from San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and the East Bay. And on Thursday May 5th, community planners will discuss what they are doing from the grassroots in neighborhoods across San Francisco hardest-hit by the gentrification crisis.

We hope you join us for San Francisco’s Affordable Housing Week 2016, and check out the other events happening this month across the region, as an opportunity to plug in, get informed, and learn about the extensive advocacy and real solutions that exist right here in our City.

For more information on San Francisco’s Affordable Housing Week 2016, see here.