25 Sanchez Apartments – Courtesy of BRIDGE Housing

 

Erick Diaz, MUP/MPP 2020

Summer 2019

Organization: California Housing Partnership, San Francisco, CA

Sponsor: Joint Center for Housing Studies Community Service Fellowship

 

“One of the projects I’ve worked on the most this summer has been the Case Study for the Rental Assistance Demonstration program in the City of San Francisco. For the project, I interviewed city officials, nonprofit developers, and the financing team. Through these conversations, I’ve learned about the leadership, tools, and collaboration that is needed to complete such a massive undertaking like the recapitalization of 3,400 apartments across 29 buildings in a period of four years. One of the main takeaways for someone looking to work in affordable housing development is the leadership that’s needed from city officials to make these changes come to fruition. In San Francisco, the mayor, in addition to committing $100 million in soft funding for the redevelopment of the properties, led his staff to create efficiencies in navigating this entire process.

One of the key things that I learned was the city’s commitment to non-displacement of residents throughout this process. In a high-cost area like San Francisco and with the conversion of 3,400 units, it’s understandable that residents are concerned with being displaced by the new development. However, the mayor’s team – in collaboration with local leaders – worked with residents to ensure they were able to move back. The development teams held meetings every month to discuss their rights and the logistics of the construction.

Additionally, the city and development teams launched initiatives like the “Family Member Add” campaign which encouraged residents to register everyone who was not on the lease to make sure they were in compliance. As Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) rules go, if a household is over income, then the development would lose tax credits for that unit – which means they lose equity and the gap needed to finance the development increases. To make sure this was less of a challenge for the developers, the City committed about $100 million dollars to close those gaps and ensure all residents were able to come back to their unit.

The City of San Francisco also leveraged the expertise of local nonprofits in the area. San Francisco has a strong affordable housing development community, with many of the organizations having long-term relationships working with residents. For instance, the Chinatown Community Development Corporation (CCDC) has a strong relationship providing services to residents in a few public housing communities in Chinatown, primarily Ping Yuen and Ping Yuen North. As a result, it was critical for organizations like this – with cultural and neighborhood competence – to be involved and leverage their connections. These organizations used their strong connections and the legitimacy that they’ve built to overhaul and renovate dilapidated housing.”

 

Alemany Apartments  – Courtesy of BRIDGE Housing