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Leasing report reveals monumental demand for SF affordable housing

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More than 300 people applied for seven affordable units in a development of luxury condos at 72 Townsend St. in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)
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There’s nothing like a leasing report to see just how much demand there is for affordable housing in San Francisco.

For the 120 units that opened up at the Dr. George W. Davis Senior Housing and Senior Center, located at 1751 Carroll Ave., 4,126 affordable housing hopefuls applied by entering a lottery, according to a report presented at the Commission on Community Investment and Infrastructure meeting on Tuesday.

San Francisco uses a lottery for anyone who wishes to move into a below-market rate home.

There were 117 one-bedroom units, three two-bedroom units and one manager unit available in the project built last year in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood.

The units were for those earning up to 50 percent of the area median income.

For each applicant, there were what are known as preferences of those who are first in line for the units. In this case, there were 12, more than usual, because the lottery had to go through the San Francisco Housing Authority, which required a larger set of preferences because the development is using the public housing’s Section 8 subsidies.

The first preference was given to those living at the Alice Griffith public housing site before it was rebuilt. These people were living alone in larger units after having raised a family there but would no longer be eligible for the larger-sized home. There were 16 residents from Alice Griffith that moved in.

Then, there were those who have certificates of preference dating back to when the now-defunct Redevelopment Agency displaced black communities in the 1960s and 1970s in the Bayview and Western Addition.

As many as 74 certificates of preference holders applied for these homes, but ultimately 26 were housed at the new senior housing. Of the 26, 18 were residents of Hunters Point and eight of the Western Addition.

Seventy-one applicants moved in who met the seventh preference of “rent burden or assisted housing residents.” Rent burden is defined as when rent exceeds 40 percent of a household’s income.

Twenty-three of the units went to homeless individuals through the Department of Public Health’s program called Direct Access to Housing Program, under a requirement by the Office of Community Investment and Infastructure, which oversees the project area.

In the context of the historical out-migration of black residents during the redevelopment era, and the current housing and affordability crisis, there is an emphasis placed on the racial demographics of who gets the housing and from what neighborhoods.

The report shows that 100 heads of households are black, seven are “other multi-racial,” six Latino, six Asian and five white. Forty-one percent of the new tenants originally came from District 10, the Bayview-Hunters Point area, or District 6, the Western Addition area.

“The balance of the supervisorial districts had at least one successful applicant with the exception of District 2 [the Marina area],” the report found.

Maria Benjamin, director of below-market-rate programs for the Mayor’s Office of Housing, presented the leasing report on Tuesday to the Commission on Community Investment and Infrastructure, the agency that took over the defunct redevelopment agency.

That wasn’t the only housing report presented.

Benjamin also discussed a development at 72 Townsend St. in South Beach, also under OCII, that resulted in 74 homeownership units, of which seven were required affordable units. More than 300 applied to these seven units.

The average income of those who moved into the affordable units was 85 percent of area median income, or $71,601. All seven homebuyers were previously living in San Francisco and two of the applicants came from District 6, which includes South of Market, and two from District 9, which includes the Mission.

“All in all, there are now seven households that have a very affordable home in a very nice community,” Benjamin said.

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