Proposition C would funnel money into affordable San Francisco homes

Joseph Schell/Special to the s.f. examinerA place to call home: If passed in November

Mayor Ed Lee’s answer to the pressing need for more housing in San Francisco is November’s Proposition C, which would establish a housing trust fund.

If approved by voters, $1.5 billion would be invested in low- and moderate-income housing construction and related programs during the next 30 years. The bulk of the funding would be used to help develop up to 30,000 units of housing affordable to households earning up to 120 percent of the area’s median income. The City’s existing affordable housing requirements also would be relaxed to encourage more construction.

Beginning with $20 million next year, the fund would grow by $2.8 million annually until reaching $50.8 million.

“A growing and vibrant economy requires a growing and diverse supply of new housing in our city,” Mayor Ed Lee said in a July statement.

The mayor has pledged to ensure the construction of at least 9,000 units of already-planned housing for households earning 60 percent or less of the median income, which is about $43,000 for a single person and $62,000 for a family of four.

The measure would reduce The City’s existing affordable housing requirements by 20 percent for most projects. Developments generally must provide 15 percent of the units as affordable, which would decrease to 12 percent.

The City would be prohibited from increasing affordable housing requirements beyond those in place Jan. 1.

Over the course of about five years, the measure also would set aside at least $15 million for a down-payment loan program to benefit moderate-income families, which for a four-person home is $80,000 to $120,000. At least another $15 million would go toward a program to help people avoid foreclosure on their homes and help with repairs or energy efficiency. Finally, the fund could spend up to $5 million a year on public improvements necessary to support new residential growth.

Funding would come from tax revenue that previously flowed into The City’s now-dissolved Redevelopment Agency, a portion of the hotel tax that has been appropriated annually for affordable housing, and an additional $13 million in new revenue from an increase in business license fees. The business fees are part of a separate proposed ballot measure, Proposition E, which would replace The City’s business payroll tax with a gross receipts tax.

The measure was placed on the ballot by the Board of Supervisors. Supervisors Sean Elsbernd and Carmen Chu opposed it, saying it was unwise to lock up funding for housing when The City faces competing needs such as public safety and education.

Some who back the measure, such as Supervisor David Campos, wanted it to be more aggressive.

There is a well-funded campaign backing Prop. C, with $102,350 raised as of Sept. 30, and there is no organized opposition.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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