City celebrates completion of new affordable housing project in Mission Bay

Edwin M. Lee Apartments, named after former mayor, to house homeless veterans, low-income families

Mayor London Breed and other city officials celebrated the grand opening of 118 affordable housing units for homeless veterans and low-income families in Mission Bay on Tuesday.

The space has housed residents since February, but the celebration was postponed due to the pandemic.

“Creating new housing plays a critical role in our efforts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. These new homes contribute to our efforts to build back and make San Francisco even more affordable, equitable, and vibrant,” said Breed.

The Edwin M. Lee Apartments, located at 1150 3rd St., are named after the late Mayor Ed Lee.

“Our beloved Mayor Lee dreamed of a dynamic, diverse, affordable San Francisco, and so it is fitting that these new apartments in the heart of our city bear his name,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

This is the fourth 100 percent affordable development in the Mission Bay South Redevelopment Project Area, initially planned after President Barack Obama’s Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness and Mayor Lee’s 10-year San Francisco Plan to Abolish Chronic Homelessness.

The entrance to the Edwin M. Lee Apartments, an affordable housing complex named in honor of the late Mayor Ed Lee. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

The entrance to the Edwin M. Lee Apartments, an affordable housing complex named in honor of the late Mayor Ed Lee. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

The $78 million development secured funding at the federal, state and local level— including $20.1 million from the Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure (OCII), $10 million from the state’sVeterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention Program, rental subsidies from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and $4.5 million in private donations.

The five-story building has 62 units designated for formerly homeless veterans and 56 units for families, with units ranging in size from studios to three-bedroom apartments. Onsite amenities include communal spaces, walking paths and outdoor seating areas.

“I spent eight years homeless. When I lived in the shelters I didn’t feel safe sleeping. I was tired. I was actually physically, emotionally, mentally tired,” said Reggie Barham, apartment resident and veteran. “But now being at home and being able to come back home…that’s beautiful. And peaceful. My mind is at peace.”

The effort was overseen by OCII and organized by Swords to Plowshares, a veteran-focused nonprofit, and the Chinatown Community Development Center.

Swords to Plowshares Executive Director Michael Blecker said the new development was a major undertaking that deserved to be celebrated, despite the delay in recognition.

“After 45 years serving homeless and at-risk veterans in San Francisco, we know that stability and the path to recovery start with housing,” Blecker said. “For veterans who suffer from poverty, lack of support network, PTSD, and other disabilities, permanent supportive housing is the solution that will save their lives.”

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