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Forest Hill pushes back on affordable housing for seniors

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150 apartments planned for hillside

On Wednesday we examined a curious but consistent phenomena: Nobody has ever managed to conclusively illustrate that low-income housing hurts the value of a neighborhood, but people still react to it as if it does—which, ironically, may then hurt property values.

As such, affordable housing tends to meet the stiffest resistance in well-to-do neighborhoods where homeowners feel they have a lot to lose. Take Forest Hill, for example.

The city wants to build 150 affordable apartments for seniors on a narrow strip of land on Laguna Honda Boulevard presently only sparsely populated by church facilities. Many of the residents would be formerly homeless.

The developer is a group called Christian Church Homes of Northern California, who hope to build over 500 new affordable homes in the city across four sites.

Seemingly, this should be a project that can do no wrong. And it’s even primed to avoid agitating the kinds of prejudices that normally lead middle class neighborhoods to try and push out low-income housing.

(Not that we necessarily assume that Forest Hill residents harbor those prejudices, mind you. Just that it’s got to be useful for developers not to have to worry about that kind of thing.)

However, as the San Francisco Chronicle reports, the neighborhood association doesn’t like it anyway. Some of them would rather have the hillside.

As its name implies, Forest Hill enjoys some rather picturesque views in certain spots. The new building’s proposed design would mar this particular patch, in the eyes of those complaining.

Some are quick to add that they find fault with the specific design, not necessarily with the idea of developing the land.

Others consider the fact that some tenants would be the onetime homeless persons a detriment, worrying about “mental illness” and “drug addicts,” according to the Examiner.

But the argument in favor of the project banks on necessity: Basically everyone agrees that we need housing for seniors and the homeless, that Forest Hill is a beautiful place that doesn’t see much new development in general, and that underdeveloped parcels in such neighborhoods aren’t exactly ten a penny.

The Mayor’s Office of Housing presently favors the project. Forest Hill representative Supervisor Norman Yee does not.