San Francisco adopts ‘neighborhood preference’ for affordable housing lottery

After weeks of debate, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved prioritizing a portion of affordable housing in new developments for those who live near them.

Only those who win a lottery system overseen by the Mayor’s Office of Housing can move into below market-rate units funded publicly or in private developments where a percentage of below market rate units are required.

The debate over the the proposal highlighted the cumbersome process.

Forty percent of the total below market-rate units in a development’s lottery will now be prioritized for those who live within the supervisor district where the development occurred.

The legislation was approved in a 9-2 vote with supervisors Eric Mar and Katy Tang voting against it. Board President London Breed and Malia Cohen, the two black supervisors on the board, were strong supporters. Black community leaders supported the proposal, arguing that affordable housing in developments in their communities haven’t been going to longtime residents.

Referring to the outmigration of The City’s black population Cohen said the proposal “was not the perfect solution” but “it is the best first step that we have.”

Breed said “I don’t know who is winning the lottery. But I know who is losing. African Americans at an alarming rate have left this city.”

Breed said that The City has fallen short by using “outdated housing policies from the 1960s, and the 1970s to try and address what is a 2015 housing crisis.”

The number of affordable housing units in private developments that were rented or sold to individuals between 2008 and 2014 are broken down by ethnicity as follows: whites (264 units), Asian/Pacific Islander (615 units), Hispanics/Latinos (145 units), blacks (62 units), and other (47) and unknown race (193).

There was a variety of concerns expressed about the proposal. Supervisor Katy Tang said she was concerned about the impacts on residents who are displaced in the Sunset neighborhood she represents, which is in District 4, since most of the affordable housing is being built in districts five, six, eight and 10.

Tang, who opposed the legislation, said she was concerned about what will happen to those evicted in districts where no or few affordable housing is being built. “There are many neighborhoods, including all of District 4, where they will see 60 percent of the affordable housing units taken away,” Tang said.

Others said the proposal didn’t go far enough and wanted the percentage of units to exceed 40 percent. There were also others who wanted the preference to apply not to entire supervisorial districts but more specific neighborhoods, such as defined by the borders of the Mission neighborhood.

Mar said that the proposal failed to address displacement over all and described it as “people fighting over crumbs and not a real solution,.” “A one size fits all approach is not the right one. It has the danger of pitting communities of color against each other,” Mar added.
Board of SupervisorsCity HallDavid CamposLondon BreedMalia CohenPoliticsSan Francisco

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