Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

SF announces $6.1M for LGBT senior housing

An artist’s rendering of Richardson Hall, at the corner of Hermann and Laguna, part of a planned housing development for low-income seniors. (Photo: Courtesy Openhouse)

The first affordable housing project in San Francisco to be funded by the recently approved Housing Trust Fund will be a long-stalled affordable housing development for LGBT seniors.

Voters adopted the trust fund on the November ballot. It will provide San Francisco with a permanent source of revenue to pay for below-market-rate housing for low- and middle-income households over the next 30 years. It is estimated to generate $1.5 billion over the lifetime of the fund, with $20 million expected during the first year.

Mayor Ed Lee announced this morning (Friday, November 30) that the first allocation of money from the trust fund would be $6.1 million toward construction of  110 units of LGBT-friendly housing for low-income seniors at the 55 Laguna project.

“A growing and vibrant economy requires a diverse supply of new housing,” stated Lee. “San Francisco voters know that creating a permanent source of revenue to fund housing production will allow San Francisco to remain a viable place to live and work for people at all levels of the economic spectrum. And, a down payment assistance program will help keep families in our city and support a diverse workforce.”

Part of a larger in-fill development on the former UC Berkeley Extension campus a block away from the LGBT Community Center, the LGBT senior housing is estimated to cost $53 million to build. It is a joint venture between Openhouse, a local nonprofit that promotes the needs of LGBT seniors, and Mercy Housing California.

The project will occupy two buildings, one of which will be a re-purposed structure known as Richardson Hall, that have been incorporated into the larger project, which will add 330 new multi-family rental units to the city’s Lower Haight neighborhood.

“We are very excited that the city has been able to commit the funding to this important project to allow us to move toward start of construction in the summer,” stated Mercy Housing California President Douglas Shoemaker in a press release Lee’s office sent out. “It’s an honor to be the first affordable housing project funded with revenue from the Housing Trust Fund.”

The project has languished for years as city planners, the developers, neighborhood groups and housing activists squabbled over the development’s design, affordable housing component and financing.

In August the Planning Commission signed off on the project for a second time in four years due to several changes made by developer Wood Partners, which is constructing the rental housing. Following the vote Openhouse officials had said they would seek financial support from a variety of sources, such as the Mayor’s Office of Housing, the federal U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and a low-income tax credit financing program overseen by the state.

If the remaining money falls into place for the Openhouse project, the first LGBT seniors could move into their new apartments in 2015.

— Matthew S. Bajko, November 30, 2012 @ 1:44 pm PST
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