San Francisco opens new affordable housing building for low-income, previously homeless families

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- More than 5,000 people in San Francisco applied for an affordable housing unit in a newly built apartment building south of Market.

Through a lottery system, only 83 families were lucky to get their own unit.

That's San Francisco's reality when it comes to affordable housing.

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Yet the city, with the help of non-profits and the private industry is becoming a model for other cities when it comes to finding a solution to the housing crisis.

Catina Turner was once homeless, she now pays $341 a month for this one bedroom apartment in San Francisco.



"I'm so happy and I thank God for all of this. I'm so happy, much better living, I'm more stable," expressed Turner who moved in seven months ago with her son.

Today Mayor London Breed and the other tenants at 1036 Mission Street celebrated the grand opening of the building, 100 percent affordable housing.

Like Turner, 40 families, once homeless, live here as well as another 43 low-income families.

"We're out there working every single day with so many amazing partners, people who are willing to invest in programs just like this," said Breed.

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That partnership is what's changing the way San Francisco deals with its affordable housing crisis.

The land where 1036 Mission stands was purchased by the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development-a non-profit that owns and manages 40 buildings, similar to this one.

Here's how it works, the non-profit builds or renovates them using city, state and private funds, in exchange for keeping them 100 percent affordable for life.

"The terms of the lease say, hey who ever is the leasee has to operate affordable housing here so even if we go out of business, who ever takes over here has to abide by the terms of that lease," explained Don Falk, CEO of the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development.

When it comes to public housing, San Francisco has achieved something few cities have done, transferred all 29 public housing structures to non-profits which have then renovated them.

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While a non-profit owns the building, the land is still the property of the city. Again, the public housing, in this case-35-hundred units, must remain affordable.

"It's been a great transformation process and our public housing stock is really so improved since we did that," said Kate Hartley, director of the Mayor's Office of housing and Community Development.

Still, the reality today is that only a few who apply actually get to live permanently in affordable housing buildings.

"In San Francisco it's almost as valuable as winning the California lottery," said Falk.

This concept of transferring public housing to non-profits began in 2012 after Congress created the Rental Assistance Demonstration or RAD.

Congress finally accepted that the federal government could no longer adequately maintain public housing, which has been a huge burden for cities.

Credit where credit is due, the late mayor Ed Lee quickly embraced the RAD vision and here we are today.

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