“The program, dubbed Hope SF, calls for replacing some 1,500 units of existing public housing at three developments: Sunnydale, Westside Court in Western Addition and Potrero Hill. In addition to replacing the existing housing, densities at the three projects would be doubled with another 1,500 market-rate condos and affordable rental units.
In the largest of the proposed redevelopments, Related of California, an affiliate of New York-based Related Cos., would team up with Mercy Housing to build 1,498 units in Visitation Valley’s distressed Sunnydale development. Under the $400 million proposal, Related and Mercy would build 1,070 public housing and affordable rental units, as well as 428 affordable and market-rate condos. In Potrero Hill, Bridge Housing Corp., together with its for-profit arm Bridge Infill Land Development, would construct 805 public housing and affordable rental units, as well as 446 affordable and market-rate condos, also about a $400 million investment. At the 136-unit Westside Court in Western Addition, EM Johnson Interest and TMG Partners are proposing to replace 136 units of public housing and add another 80 to 100.
A fourth project, John Stewart Co.’s $350 million redevelopment of the Hunters View project in Hunters Point, was proposed two years ago and is currently before the Planning Commission.”
Billion-dollar push on public housing [Business Times]
JustQuotes: Redeveloping The Developments (And Changing The Mix) [SocketSite 3/08]
JustQuotes: A New Vision For A Hunters Point Neighborhood [SocketSite 5/07]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Kevin

    “Public Housing” = ghetto. “Affordable housing” = ghetto. Why don’t we just allow developers to just build market-rate housing? More housing supply = lower housing prices for all socioeconomic classes. This will just continue the exit of the middle-class of SF, which is becoming a home for just the poor and rich. I would love to sit on the mayor’s housing board, and apply some basic economic principles to this stupid policy

  2. Posted by Michael L.

    Kevin – Stop Making Sense…..

  3. Posted by Zig

    Kevin you haven’t been around long I take it? We’ll try to get you a meeting with Gavin as it seems you have amazing insight into the issue

  4. Posted by Brutus

    Kevin,
    While I agree with the tone of your post, affordable does not equal ghetto – at least how “affordable” is determined in SF (can mean as much as 140% AMI – which can mean a couple with kids making over $90,000 a year. In addition, for affordable condos, someone also has to find financing or qualify for the financing provided, which means a decent credit score and a fairly sizable down payment (unless they can also qualify for assistance with that – but that is relatively rare).
    However, you are 100% correct that public housing equals ghetto. There is no need for “public housing” as we know it. Simply making all of the units “affordable” and having separate “brackets” for all of the units (some units sub 40% AMI, some sub 60%, some sub 80%, some sub 100%, some sub 120%, etc) would make a lot more sense.
    In addition to that, the densities proposed are all WAY to low. If we’re really trying to “dilute” the ghetto, we need to double or triple the amount of market rate going in, and double or triple the amount of affordable (to bring in more “non-ghetto” but low to medium income folks).
    That, or we could just go with the French or Dutch systems. They both seem to work ok and better than anything in the US or UK.

  5. Posted by Zig

    “In addition to that, the densities proposed are all WAY to low. If we’re really trying to “dilute” the ghetto, we need to double or triple the amount of market rate going in, and double or triple the amount of affordable”
    I wonder if the private sector thinks this is feasible?
    Curious about your comment about how the French and Dutch handle the issue. Were you being sarcastic? Don’t they have huge problems with segregation and rioting? The equivlent would be packing up all the project people in SF and building them brand new modernist high rise projects in Vallejo. Sounds regressive

  6. Posted by Patrick

    Brutus: Agreed until the last statement.
    “That, or we could just go with the French or Dutch systems. They both seem to work ok and better than anything in the US or UK.”
    I’m not sure what the Dutch system is like, but the French system of banlieues does nothing more than build rings of ghettos around French cities which periodically erupt into violence.
    I’d be happy if SF sold off ALL the public housing land to the highest bidder to build completely market rate housing. SF could then use the proceeds as investment money to fund Section 8 vouchers and get out of the housing business completely.

  7. Posted by Mike

    KEVIN’S STATEMENTS ARE TRUE!!! THE TRUTH HURTS!!!
    I noticed that a lot of people making comments are hypocrites. If this area is so great, why don’t you buy a piece of property now in Visitation Valley? SF government wants you to think that this neighborhood will change with new housing. NOT!!!
    Look at 3rd Street with the new streetcar T-Line. Where are the yuppies with their little doggies, Starbucks, upscale restaurants, Whole Foods, etc. that were suppose to follow? UPDATE: violent crime, murders, assaults, vehicle break-in’s continue to break new records every month.
    Here’s a saying that always holds true: YOU CAN TAKE THEM OUT OF THE GHETTO BUT YOU CAN’T TAKE THE GHETTO OUT OF THEM.

  8. Posted by Kevin

    The problem with “affordable housing” is that it was designed for teachers, firefighters, policeman, and other typical middle-class jobs. I have a bunch of friends, whom are teachers in the city and struggling to make ends meet. They have to live with multiple roommates in rent-controlled apartments (that is a different subject). None of them qualify for affordable housing, or, if they do, they are under very strict guidelines on what they can sell the property for, and within how many years. There is no incentives to bring yourself up from the middle-class to upper-middle class in this system. Let’s say a teacher makes a great real estate investment, good for them! We should not punish them. We also should not force them into affordable housing. Maybe the teacher rather spend his/her money on other things. I came from an immigrant family, and believe hard work should move you up in this country.
    However, esp in SF, you are rewarded with hand-outs when you stay poor, so there is little to no incentive to work harder. There is a lot of incentive to drink 40s all day on market street and in Golden Gate Park. I lived downtown when I moved here a year ago, and I will never again live within a few blocks of Market St, and never near the 3rd st. line.

  9. Posted by dissent

    I think if you get affordable housing subsidized by SF taxpayers, you should not get the same margin of profit when you sell as someone who got no subsidies. Affordable housing is for the middle class, not the upper middle or upper. If you buy at middle class prices and sell much higher, that is against the program: you are destroying middle class housing.
    That said, I’m all for rebuilding the projects, but I’m concerned about the density of very poor folks. Because these projects are falling apart, they have many uninhabitable units. These would be rebuilt under this program. That means, in Potrero, where I live, the number of very poor folks would soar by like a third. I am afraid that crime would soar.

  10. Posted by Zig

    Partick
    Section 8 is a federal program and no landlords are req. to participate
    Your idea makes logical sense to people who are sucessful but it is not politically tenable. there would be great diplacement if SF created some sort of voucher plan and the residents would not find a place in the City to live
    Look at the shitstorm around simply building market rate and 30% affordable housing in a toxic vacant shipyard ajacent to the projects

  11. Posted by Brutus

    Sorry everyone – I wasn’t clear in my sarcasm now that I re-read my post. The French and Dutch systems do not work well at all and are the only two countries that may have screwed up public housing worse than the US and UK. Typing too fast ;)

  12. Posted by nohood

    mike,
    bayview, where the rail is, and hunters point, far from the rail, are 2 totally different vibes. yuppies are never going to move to bayview, hopefully anyway, but a lot of awesome working class people live over there now and will continue to move there. i hope to be one of them, and i’m not in the least bit afraid of bayview.

  13. Posted by Someone

    Why on earth should we spend public money to rebuild a ghetto when our schools and public transportation don’t work?
    Just another bailout.
    Don’t like living in a ghetto? Get an education, practice birth control, and work your ass off. Force the scumbag dealers from your neighbhorhoods, celebrate kids who succeed. Stop acting like victims. That’s what the rest of us people do. Ever see “The Road to Happyness?” (sic). that’s about a homeless dad in SF who made it, by doing just that.

  14. Posted by Mole Man

    The housing is there and dumping the people isn’t a good option. Mixing market rates in is a great option because experience has shown that a mix of market rate and affordable units tends to avoid going ghetto. Nothing is perfect and the details matter. This plan could provide a bunch of new housing units, revamp existing public housing units, and build a real community there, and all with investors getting a profit.

  15. Posted by PotreroResident

    Rebuilding public housing is a complete waste of city time and money. I have said it once and I will always say it. All you are doing is rebuilding crime for the future.
    In addition, I believe that building public housing is a big reason why we have such economic disparity in the city. We are giving NO INCENTIVE for the public housing folks to get out of their rutt (and frankly don’t care). You wanna get someone out of the ghetto? Force them to live at market rate prices like everyone else. There is no reason why they cannot.

  16. Posted by San FronziScheme

    What all experiences in social housing have proven is that whenever a government tries to do good for a specific social class, the next generations have to clean up after.
    Think tax cuts and the trickle-down economics that became more like a “Trickle UP”.
    Think social housing/rent control that put people into a real Catch-22:
    - leave it and you’ll give up a life you could not afford
    - stay in it and you’ll fester with the others in a cushioned trap
    Enough with the experiments.

  17. Posted by Kevin

    San FronziScheme,
    I hear you. Government, please stay out of my life and my neighbors’ lives. Just keep everyone playing on a level playing field and “in-bounds”. That is all you are there for. Sometimes, I think that you should sell off every government service, and privatize it, and then reduce taxes by at least 50-75%. Government does not know anything about running schools, healthcare, etc., etc.
    I think we need another American Revolution.

  18. Posted by fluj

    Has there ever really been a consistent public or affordable housing policy, tho? We hear stories about initial ’60s success followed by ’70s decay due to negligence all the time. Then the same buildings stay on, or get torn down. If torn down they get supplemented by new building ideas coupled with new policies. I don’t think we really know if it’s viable to have a high density mix of bmr or affordable, public, and market rate in with a commercial corridor and some intersperced mixed use. We’ve never really tried it.

  19. Posted by Leea

    Does anyone know what happens to the residents of the [public housing] go while the construction takes place. The projects in fishersman’s wharf which used to be on the Francisco street stretch changed the entire neighborhood when it became a beautiful apartment building, but I’ve noticed that the residents of the new building have changed dramatically too. The old [public housing] was quite dangerous and hurt the tourism industry there, but now, there’s a more diverse community of singles and families there. I’m wondering if in the interim of rebuilding the [public housing] crowd is not permanently moved out and replaced… maybe they’re in Oakland? Where do they go, and where can we expect the current residents…to go once the building projects start?

  20. Posted by Rillion

    From the faq at the hope-sf site.
    ***
    Q. Where will the residents live during construction?
    A. The HOPE SF model is to rebuild each site in phases. The goal is to minimize relocation needs and, when possible, enable residents to stay in their existing communities during construction. At Hunters View, all 55 families that were living in the first phase of buildings to be demolished were successfully relocated, each with the opportunity to relocate onsite and most choosing to stay onsite. A few families chose to move for health reasons and were successfully assisted in moving to affordable housing elsewhere.
    Q. How many residents will be displaced by the HOPE SF project?
    A. HOPE SF will not permanently displace qualified residents. San Francisco has made a commitment to rebuild every unit of public housing. All the developers sign documents with the San Francisco Housing Authority and the Mayor’s Office of Housing agreeing to meet this commitment.
    Q. Will the residents be able to return after construction? Will there be restrictions regarding the residents’ return?
    A. All residents will have the right to move into the revitalized units, provided that they have not been evicted or served by the Housing Authority with a summons and complaint for eviction.

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