$300M bond proposal keeps housing crisis center stage

More than two-thirds of San Francisco residents wouldn’t be able to afford a place to live in The City if they lost their housing today.

Such harsh housing realities, which are acknowledged by city officials, came into sharp focus Wednesday as Mayor Ed Lee’s $300 million housing bond proposal took a step closer to being placed on November’s ballot.

The housing crisis is impacting the lives of many and fueling passionate cries for relief. Just last week hundreds turned out at the Board of Supervisors and testified for hours calling on The City to stop the displacement and evictions in the Mission.

The City is attempting to address the problem by investing more in housing. During the next six years, The City is slated to spend $862 million on below market rate housing, according to Kate Hartley, deputy director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing. “We need the $300 million affordable housing bond to do more in the next five years,” Hartley said. The $862 million — which doesn’t include the bond proposal — is a combination of funding sources: $196 million from the 2012 voter approved housing trust bond, $108 million from tax revenues, $164 million from tax increment financing, $277 million from developer fees and $117 million from federal and state sources.

The mayor initially proposed a $250 million housing bond, but after last week’s show of support for the Mission he increased it to $300 million to dedicate $50 million to the Mission for acquisition of land and construction of below market-rate housing.

Supervisor John Avalos initially introduced a competing $500 million housing bond, but on Wednesday reduced it to $350 million and remains in talks with the mayor on reaching a compromise.

The Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee voted Wednesday to send both proposals to the full board.

The bond builds on the mayor’s effort to build or rehabilitate 30,000 units by 2020. Some 10,717 of the units are for low-to-moderate income earners. Of these 10,717 units, 4,151 are expected to be existing rehabilitated public housing units.

The proposed bond would help with more public housing units. “We want to accelerate the development timelines of both [Potrero Terrace & Annex] and Sunnydale,” Hartley said. Without the bond, she said Sunnydale could take another 20 years.

For middle income housing, the bond would fund the expansion of a down payment loan homebuyer assistance program. And it would also fund the launch of a new middle income rental program “where we can convert what would have been market rate units to middle income units.” It would be capped at 120 percent of area median income, which for a family of four is about $122,000.

During the past eight years The City has come up short in building enough housing to meet the Regional Housing Needs Assessment goals, which called for 18,878 units for low to moderate incomes. Just 7,064 were built, 65.6 percent.

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