Last week, San Francisco Housing Action Coalition (SFHAC) members got a front-row seat at a briefing from Deputy Director Kate Hartley, Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD), on the various programs that agency is deploying to fund affordable housing. In particular, we got a report on how Prop A, the Affordable Housing Bond is being put into action. In the short-term, MOHCD’s staff is stretched thin trying to get significant new funding packaged and out the door, not to mention moving vital projects ahead.
If you may recall, Prop A was a $310 million general obligation bond that was passed by the City’s voters in November 2015 to expand the City’s capacity to build or subsidize affordable housing in a variety of ways. These include:
Public Housing – $80M. Replacement of our severely dilapidated public housing will speed up, starting this year with the Sunnydale and Potrero HOPE SF projects.
Low-Income Housing – $100M. Specific targets include construction of shovel-ready, 100% affordable projects in highly-impacted and/or under-served neighborhoods.
Middle-Income Housing – $80M. For middle-income housing. For instance, $5M is being invested in expanding the “Teacher Next Door” program that funds forgivable loans for teachers to buy their own homes. $15M will expand The Down Payment Assistance Loan Program (DALP) to reach people with incomes of up to 175 percent of area median income with loans of up to $375,000.
Mission District Allocation – $50M. This is a key priority given its political importance. Ms. Hartley said that the MAP2020 plan underway has resulted in “more investment in the Mission than would otherwise be the case.” There are about 750 units of affordable housing that have been funded and are awaiting construction. This number could increase through use of density bonuses.
The good news is that MOHCD has received excellent responses to its notice of Proposition A funding availability and is currently evaluating new construction affordable projects, both citywide and in the Mission District.
In addition to funding new construction, the first bond issuance under Prop A will provide $15M for the City’s “Small Sites Program”, which helps developers acquire, rehab, and preserve existing rent-controlled buildings as permanently affordable housing. To date, the Small Site Program has preserved about 60 units. Another 70 units are in the pipeline.
Finally, the City is helping launch an “accelerator fund” of private-source, patient capital that can be leveraged and used for affordable housing.
The density bonus in the Affordable Housing Bonus Program for 100 percent affordable housing projects is being implemented in pending projects. However, the mixed-use (market-rate) part of the program is on hold for now. Interestingly, Ms. Hartley said that developers’ use of state density bonuses seems to be generating less opposition among certain interest groups than it previously had, perhaps in recognition of developers’ rights under state law.
The SFHAC strongly supported passage of Prop A and its members are pleased to see so much action underway at MOHCD to address our housing affordability and displacement crises. Perhaps they might even get approval for increasing their staffing, a significant constraint to all these programs moving faster.