Many community members remain concerned about the high cost of housing in The City and evictions. Hundreds have made their voices heard at SF City Hall. GABRIELLE LURIE/SPECIAL TO THE EXAMINER.

SF housing bond focus shifts to voters

A consensus reached at City Hall over a $310 million housing bond for the November ballot means the Board of Supervisors’ focus will now shift to the voters — who have rejected two previous housing bonds.

The supervisors this week unanimously supported a resolution to put the bond on the ballot. Their case rests on the bond details, approved Wednesday by the board’s Budget and Finance Committee.

Discussion of the bond comes amid current housing conditions of rising rents and evictions. For example, low-income households are more than twice as likely to move out of San Francisco than households of higher incomes with 12.3 percent moving out annually compared to 5.9 percent, respectively, according to economic analysis of the bond issued Wednesday by The City’s economist Ted Egan.

Overall, the report said the bond would have multiple economic benefits. “New affordable housing generates both direct and indirect housing subsidies whose value greatly exceeds The City’s per new unit,” the report said.

Of the total amount, $100 million would go toward rehabilitating and building housing for low-income households, those earning up to 60 percent of the area median income, which for a family of four is about $60,000. That’s the income cap for housing projects to receive tax credits, the main revenue source for below market rate housing construction nationwide.

The Mission will benefit from $50 million for buying properties and planning development.

Based on 2013 census data, there were 95,000 households in The City earning under 80 percent of the area median income paying an average of 46 percent of their income on housing. Affordable housing is defined as a household paying 30 percent of its income on rent. If that was achieved, it would represent about a $6,000 annual subsidy per household, the report said.

Two public housing sites slated for overhauls, Potrero and Sunnydale, will receive $80 million to speed up project timelines. “Together they are 1,300 units. When they are transformed into new mixed income communities it will be 3,300 units,” said Kate Hartley, deputy director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing. Work wouldn’t be completed until 2035, but with the bond it could finish in 2025, she said.

Another $80 million will go toward homebuyers’ assistance programs and a middle-income rent subsidy program for families. Part of the funding, $20 million, will go toward a pilot rental assistance program for middle-income families, which is based on a program in New York. Those who earn up to 150 percent of area median income, which for a family is about $150,000, could participate. “We do want to offer some flexibility for our middle income families who we want to help stay in the city,” Hartley said.

Next week, the full board is expected to vote to place the bond on the ballot.

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