Federal government to make decision on San Francisco 'neighborhood preferences'

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco officials should find out on Friday whether their plan to help maintain diversity in the city will be approved by the federal government.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development had rejected so-called neighborhood preferences.

Subsidized housing is set to open in the fall. You would not believe how many people have applied, but the mayor, city attorney and supervisors believe that those who already live somewhere in the neighborhood and want to move here should get preferential treatment.

Roxanne Trade is hoping to be selected for an apartment in Willie B. Kennedy Place, a brand new 98-unit affordable housing complex built by the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation.

"We've received over 5,000 applications in less than three weeks, so overwhelming, overwhelming," Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corp. spokesperson Cynthia Alvarez said.

Tenants are selected for San Francisco's affordable housing through a lottery.

In December, the board of supervisors passed a law designed to increase the odds for people who already live in a neighborhood where new subsidized housing is built by setting aside 40 percent of the units for them.

It's designed to stop the exodus of African Americans and Latinos from rapidly gentrifying communities.

"I am a senior and I am homeless and I would like to stay within my neighborhood," Trade said.

But HUD, which helped finance this $15 million project, says the Neighborhood Preference Law violates the federal Fair Housing Act and could perpetuate segregation.

Supervisor London Breed and others went to Washington to try to convince HUD otherwise.

"Looking at the changes to the community and the fact that so many people who grew up here can't access the affordable housing that we built here," she said.

Breed is optimistic HUD will announce a creative solution on Friday, which is also the last day for applications.

"I wouldn't want to bump anyone from the neighborhood, certainly, but I'm just trying to survive and stay in this city that I love so much," applicant David Meeker said.

The lottery is scheduled for September 21.
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