Some SF housing advocates say more resources needed to reach housing goals

San Francisco would have to build hundreds more below-market-rate housing units per year in order to meet its ambitious goals by 2020, and some outside the Mayor's Office have expressed concern about whether resources can be secured to keep up with that rate of production.

Mayor Ed Lee's pledge for 30,000 housing units — one-third of them below-market rate and affordable to low- and middle-income families — by 2020 would require The City to build 5,000 units a year. Of the 10,000 below-market-rate units, up to 3,600 would be rehabilitated under the federal Rental Demonstration Program, about 500 fall under the Hope SF initiative that creates rehabilitated and new units in existing developments, and about 1,000 would be inclusionary units.

That leaves about 5,000 new below-market-rate units The City needs to complete in six years, an average of about 833 per year.

The average below-market-rate production of new housing for the past two years has been in the ballpark of 600 units, according to Ken Rich, director of development at the Mayor's Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

Relative to the recent pace of housing production, constructing more than 800 below-market-rate units per year is “not sustainable,” said Peter Cohen, co-director of the San Francisco Council of Community Housing Organizations.

“It's going to take an increase in resources, period,” Cohen said. “The question is how much it's actually going to take. We think they're going to need a minimum of $100 million over two years to move this pipeline of housing forward.”

While the resources have not yet been secured, Rich said, they typically roll in as housing work progresses.

“We have a plan to make sure they are in place when needed,” he said.

Rich could not comment on exactly how many resources The City has secured to date.According to Cohen, The City doesn't seem to have a problem reaching the 20,000 market-rate unit goal, but it could be challenging to keep up with the below-market-rate production target needed to maintain the one-third ratio.

But Rich said Lee's plan is designed to have both types of housing come online simultaneously. Dating back to 2002, San Francisco has had an inclusionary housing ordinance that requires all new developments to make between 12 and 35 percent of its units below-market rate, or pay for them to be built elsewhere in The City. The ordinance has been modified over the years.

“We need our market-rate units to increase the housing in The City but also because substantial resources go toward affordable housing,” Rich said. “The two go hand-in-hand.”

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