Chinatown housing project goes green

Residents living in one of San Francisco’s oldest housing projects will soon have more energy-efficient units, estimated to reduce utility bills and save The City more than $60 million over the next two decades.

On Friday, the San Francisco Housing Authority will celebrate the groundbreaking on energy-saving improvements to half of the 428 units in the Ping Yuen housing projects, located in the heart of Chinatown.

The housing authority has an $11.7 million grant from the U.S Housing and Urban Development department, all of which will pay for new radiators and energy-efficient windows in 234 units at Ping Yuen.

Part of the Ping Yuen was built in 1952, housing generations of low-income families in one of the densest neighborhoods in San Francisco. The rest of the housing was finished in the early 1960s.

“We will realize a great savings in energy and water and we will realize a cost savings on the utilities,” said Rose Dennis, spokeswoman for the San Francisco Housing Authority.

The average utility monthly bill at Ping Yuen is $248. That bill will be reduced by 30 percent over the next few years, Dennis said.

No residents will be relocated or displaced during construction, which is expected to last about two years, she added.

The housing authority received another $33 million in stimulus funding for energy-­savings projects at public housing sites citywide, including adding solar panels and low-flow toilets. Dennis said other projects are in the pipeline, but would not elaborate.

The project is in line with Mayor Gavin Newsom’s push to reduce energy consumption at housing projects as well as install high-speed Internet in public housing across The City.

Housing advocates said while these improvements are a positive step, they are also a “slap in the face” to residents who are living in substandard conditions. The federal government is throwing money at “greening” public housing, while allowing more pressing matters to go unfunded, said Sara Shortt, executive director for the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco.


Cost cooldown

428 Units at Ping Yuen

$248 Average monthly utility bill

30 Percentage energy improvements will cut bills

$60 million Housing Authority savings over 20 years

Source: S.F. Housing Authority

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