Plans in works to build 1,700 supportive housing units for formerly homeless

Nearly 600 homes planned for families without housing

The Mayor’s Office of Housing has a plan to fund the construction of nearly 1,700 permanent supportive housing units for the formerly homeless, with most of them set to be finished by July 2024.

The schedule for the projects, some of which have been completed and some of which have projected completion dates through July 2024 and beyond, was presented Monday to the Local Homeless Coordinating Board.

Permanent supportive housing is a type of housing that provides on-site social services to people exiting chronic homelessness. In 2017, the City Controller’s Office found that San Francisco had about 971 permanent supportive housing units per 100,000 residents, the highest per capita figure among comparable cities.

“Over the past eight years, San Francisco, DC and Boston have had the most PSH beds per 100,000 residents with DC leading for most years,” the controller’s report said at the time. “However, in the past two years, San Francisco has added 1,200 PSH beds.”

The Mayor’s Office of Housing works collaboratively with the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing on the types of projects, said Anne Romero, senior project manager with the Mayor’s Office of Housing. The Mayor’s Office of Housing provides the funding for nonprofit developers to build the units.

“Since 2004, the creation of permanent supportive housing has been really a major area of capital investment of the Mayor’s Office of Housing and the city in general,” Romero said. “This was started by the 10-year plan to abolish chronic homelessness in 2004.”

The homeless department’s July 2019 strategic plan sets goals to reduce specific segments of the homeless population by certain dates and the new supportive housing plays an important role in the strategy.

For example, the department has a goal of ending family homelessness by December 2022.

“HSH will continue to work to end family homelessness by strategically expanding resources, including opening a new site for people who are pregnant and additional Permanent Supportive Housing units for families,” the plan said.

Of the 1,694 permanent supportive housing units the department has completed or planned, 35 percent, or 590, are for formerly homeless families.

That includes 132 family supportive units already completed since August 2017. These projects included 40 units of family supportive housing in an 83-unit building at 1036 Mission St. that opened in June 2018.

The next batch of new permanent supportive family units, 40 units out of the total 157-unit affordable housing development at 1950 Mission Street., are expected to open in July 2020.

About 200 of the total 1,694 planned units do not yet have construction start times or completion estimates and 256 of them were constructed between August 2017 through the end of 2019.

Romero highlighted some of the projects currently under construction.

She said that the 1064 Mission St. project, with 256 supportive housing units, has an August 2021 completion date. Of the total units, 103 are for seniors. She also noted that 127 of the units are for homeless residents with “serious mental illness” as a result of San Francisco grant funding under the state’s No Place Like Home program.

“Over 10 years we will obtain around $100 million to create around 500 new units for homeless with serious mental illness,” Romero said. “We will get them through annual locations and we will be able to include this funding in our loan agreements.”

The plan shows the creation of 405 supportive housing units, with funding from the No Place Like Home program over the coming years.

Per unit costs vary by project. The 1064 Mission St. project has a per unit cost of about $500,000, she said, because of the number of units on site and they are using modular housing to build it.

But on other projects the per unit costs are as high as $700,000. Funding for the projects come from various sources.

Romero also highlighted a project at 78 Haight St. that will result in 32-units of supportive housing for transitional age youth out of the total 63 units.

“This has been a really long awaited TAY project,” she said.

Brenda Jewett, a member of the Local Homeless Coordinating Board, asked, “Is there a plan to increase the allotment for transitional age youth in the future?”

The plan shows of the total units, 96, or 6 percent are for TAY, including the 25 that were completed in August 2017, the John Burton Housing Complex.

“We are aware that the TAY units are really under-represented here,” Romero said. “We need more TAY units.”

She said that “one of the challenges is that to date the TAY projects have been very small and that’s by design.”

She added, “But we are aware that that’s a big unmet need in the affordable housing portfolio.”

The plan calls for 1,008 supportive housing units for adults, with 258 for seniors and 62 for veterans.

James Loyce, a member of the Local Homeless Coordinating Board, questioned if the units for adults allow for partners.

Romero said that was a question “that we have been grappling with” and that in the past they have sometimes called the units single adult units and set the level of services for single adults.

“We have more of a recognition now that that is excluding if they have a partner, if they want to live with their partner,” Romero said. “We are telling the developers upfront that they cannot restrict it to single adults, even if it’s a studio.”

San Francisco’s permanent affordable housing portfolio is the largest single way The City helps people exit homelessness.

Last fiscal year, 997 formerly homeless were housed in permanent supportive out of the total 1,762 people the department said exited homelessness. The second way was sending about 560 people outside The City on buses under its homeward bound program to go live with family or friends.

As of October of this fiscal year, which began July 1, The City reported it has helped 592 people exit homelessness, including placing 322 formerly homeless into supportive housing and sending about 200 on buses to live elsewhere.

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