Next week, the affordable housing nonprofit Mission Housing will begin a complete remodel of 69 of San Francisco’s remaining public-housing sites. This means improved conditions and first-ever tenant services.
It also broadens Mission Housing’s reach in the western part of the city.
“We’re really trying to use these [five sites] as a launching pad to properly establish a presence on the west side,” said Sam Moss, the executive director of Mission Housing. “I inherently believe the west side needs to build as much affordable housing as the east side has in the last 50 years.”
The units, located in the Castro, Outer Sunset, Western Addition and Oceanview, are the last that remained under the San Francisco Housing Authority. The latter was forced to give up units to private developers in 2013, after the federal government and late Mayor Ed Lee deemed the authority financially dysfunctional.
The five buildings need major work. “We are keeping the outside walls but completely gutting the inside,” Moss said.
The Western Addition site, at 1357-1371 Eddy St., is an old Victorian that was constructed in the 1880s. The buildings at 2206-2268 Great Highway were constructed in the 1970s, and have had hardly any upkeep since. “You can imagine what sea-salt air for years” will do to “physically” alter a building,” Moss said.
The other sites are at 4101 Noriega St., 200 Randolph St./409 Head St., and 363 Noe St. Moss expects the renovations to take a year and a half.
The 100 or so tenants, many of whom are elderly and disabled, will be temporarily relocated to places like the Fillmore Center and San Francisco State University Parkmerced complex. They retain the right to return at the same affordable rent.
When the units are ready, each of the sites will receive a Mission Housing coordinator, who is in charge of resident services, a first for all of the sites, said Moss. The coordinator will field tenant concerns and help residents connect with social programming and workshops.
“The greatest failure is that [the federal housing department] never gave the proper budget to do resident services” at public housing sites, Moss said. “Tenants need just as many resources.”
Now that Mission Housing is taking over, the sites will operate with a project-based Section 8 housing voucher, with Mission Housing as the owner. Ownership is the main change; tenants will still pay only 30 percent of their income, and have the rest subsidized by the government.
The project costs roughly $50 million, including the cost of the buildings. Funding comes from a variety of state and local sources, including low-income tax credits, tax-exempt bonds, and loans. Money from Merritt Community Capital Corporation and the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development helped seal the deal, Moss said.
The acquisition bolsters Mission Housing’s Scattered-Site portfolio and expands its business further into other parts of the city.
It also means preservation of affordable housing in a San Francisco neighborhood where that’s comparatively scarce.