A 100-percent affordable housing complex at 1990 Folsom St. is one under construction by the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Center. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Funding for affordable housing expected to fall short of needs

San Francisco needs $517 million annually to reach its affordable housing goals, but available funding is expected to drop off without further investment, city planners said Monday.

At a hearing on housing sustainability needs, Planning Department staff warned that The City’s long-term investment in affordable housing is expected to drop to an average of $200 million annually for the next decade. That’s far below the $517 million needed each year to build 1,670 units of affordable housing each year.

The estimate comes as San Francisco faces a $1.5 billion shortfall over the next two years due to coronavirus. Meanwhile, state housing officials in June preliminarily more than doubled the Bay Area’s previous housing target, known as Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) to 441,000 new units by 2030.

More than half of those must be affordable to very low, low, and moderate-income households. How to prioritize affordable housing in the aftermath of disparities exposed bare by coronavirus was of concern to supervisors at the Land Use and Transportation hearing on Monday.

“The housing policy decisions made here in San Francisco have allowed many to work in safety,” said Supervisor Gordon Mar, who called the hearing. “It has also forced working-class, essential workers who are dependent on public transportation to risk their [safety]. The future of jobs and working is uncertain, yet we don’t have projected data on the scale of the impact.

San Francisco nearly hit its goal for the 2019-2020 fiscal year thanks in large part to the $600 million voter-approved affordable housing bond and bonus Education Revenue Augmentation Fund. The City allocated roughly $200 million in 2018 and an annual average of $100 million for affordable housing from 2006 to 2018, according to Planning Department staff.

With 3,297 units permitted between 2015 and 2019, San Francisco’s current RHNA goal is 65 percent complete, but while 138 percent of the market-rate housing goal areas been met, only 33 percent of moderate-income units, 51 percent of low-income units, and 31 percent of very low-income units are complete.

Several public commenters spoke to the need to de-emphasize market-rate housing to achieve racial and social equity, while a handful called for zoning changes to the west side of The City.

“I do want to caution the department and supervisors when it comes to affordable housing, this city for far too long has had an all lives matter approach,” said Arnold Townsend, a District 5 resident, in public comment. “When all lives matter, Black lives don’t. We have to become specific in our intent if we’re going to meet the needs of the African American community.”

A jobs-housing fit report is expected to be completed in the fall while a new housing balance report and an analysis of commerce and industry are expected in the beginning of 2021.

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