SF places $600M bond on November ballot to address affordable housing crisis

City officials unanimous in backing for measure, which requires two-thirds majority to win approval

San Francisco’s politicians, nonprofit developers and construction unions came together Tuesday to place a $600 million housing bond on the November ballot that would build or rehabilitate more than 2,000 affordable housing units.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to place the bond on the ballot after Mayor London Breed held a rally on the steps of City Hall, vowing to do everything she can to get voters to approve the measure in November.

It would take a two-thirds vote to pass.

“We are here united to make sure that voters pass this bond in November,” Breed said. “There’s something for everyone. It was a compromise.”

City officials estimated the funding would allow for 2,800 units of affordable housing to start construction in the next four years.

The bond includes $150 million to repair and rebuild public housing sites at Potrero Hill and Sunnydale, and is expected to result in 550 rehabbed units and 415 newly built units.

Another $220 million would go toward building, acquiring and rehabbing rental housing affordable to those earning up to 80 percent of area median income, which would comprise 1,050 units. The 2018 area median income for a person is $82,900 and for a family of four $118,400.

The bond also includes $60 million for middle-income housing, about 180 units. This includes $30 million for rehabbing or repairing housing for those earning incomes between 30 percent and 120 percent of area median income, and $30 million for down payment assistance for first time homebuyers, such as teachers.

There is also $20 million for housing for teachers and employees at the San Francisco Unified School District and City College of San Francisco, which is expected to comprise 60 units.

The remaining funding includes $150 million for senior housing, which is expected to result in 500 units, assuming “gap funding” of $300,000 per unit.

Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee, who helped negotiate the bond, emphasized the boost in senior funding.

“Only 12 percent of the housing in the pipeline for affordable housing was dedicated for seniors,” Yee said. “Now we have $150 million in this bond to reverse this trend.”

Supervisor Hillary Ronen said that the bond is “absolutely essential to create the affordable housing we so desperately need for our working families, people exiting homelessness, seniors and people with disabilities.”

She said that the Mission District she represents continues to be “ground zero for evictions and displacement” and the bond funds would help affordable housing projects in the pipeline for the neighborhood, including 681 Florida St. and 1515 South Van Ness Ave.

While city officials were unified in their support of the bond, some board members also used the bond vote to signal their opposition to another proposal from Breed to speed up the housing approval process, which is before the Board’s Rules Committee Thursday.

“The controversy of the day is the notion that bureaucracy and citizen input, neighborhood input is what’s slowing down the building of affordable housing,” said Supervisor Aaron Peskin. “I want to say for the record, what is slowing down the building of affordable housing isn’t community input … it is the lack of actual funding.”

“We have time to have good community process and good community input,” Peskin said. “Let’s not wreck what makes projects better and lets fund what builds these projects.”

Sam Moss, executive director Mission Housing Development Cooperation, a nonprofit affordable housing developer, said the bond helps “to plan for the next 10 years of pipeline for new affordable housing projects.”

He said nonprofit developers “all have one or two projects that we would be suggesting if we knew” the funding was available.

Multiple board members said there is a need for more revenue than the bond to address the scale of the crisis.

“We are not going to solve the problem until Millbrae has a bond and Marin has a bond and everyone is building housing,” Moss said. “We are going to keep stemming the tide. This bond will go a really long way to alleviating the stress that the affordable housing crisis has caused.”



Mayor London Breed speaks at a rally in support of a $600 million affordable housing bond alongside Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee, other civic leaders and labor organizations before a BOS vote at City Hall on Tuesday, July 9, 2019. Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner

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