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SF not even close to building enough affordable housing

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City had only 1,210 affordable homes for 85,000 households in 2017

Realtors Lower Housing Market Sales Forecast Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development [MOH] submitted its annual report to the Board of Supervisors earlier this month breaking down how the city is performing with the mandate to create and manage affordable housing.

The report, which covers the 2016-2017 fiscal year, puts most of its emphasis on the departments success stories. But one set of figures in particular—the ones about how many people in SF tried to get affordable housing versus available units—leaves a dire impression.

Here’s some of what MOH reported about the reality on the ground:

  • Demand crushed supply: “In 2017, MOH conducted 104 housing lotteries. Over 85,000 households applied for 1,210 units of affordable housing through the MOH housing lottery system. Low- to moderate-income hopeful homeowners submitted 1,510 applications for 185 units and 83,733 very low- to low-income households applied for 1,025 rentals.” As the San Francisco Examiner points out, that’s fewer than one home per 80 households on the low-income end, and it’s one less than one to 70 in general. Ouch.
  • Even if the city meets its goals, there will still be a huge imbalance: “Mayor Lee called upon our department to produce or preserve 10,000 affordable homes for low-income San Franciscans by 2020. We are on track to fulfill that goal.” But even if those homes showed up tomorrow, it would satisfy less than an-eighth of the need.
  • Creating housing costs a lot: “In 2016-2017, MOH made $22,615,000 in loans to assist three nonprofits to acquire and rehabilitate 10 properties with 63 residential and 7 commercial units.” That’s $323,071 per unit. This is, in fact, cheaper than many estimates on building from scratch—as high as $425,000/home by some calculations—but still not exactly an economy package.
Photo by Alisa_Ch/Shutterstock
  • Helping people buy homes is much cheaper than building: “MOH’s various homeownership assistance programs helped 201 households purchase their first home in San Francisco in fiscal year 2016-2017. In total, the down payment assistance programs distributed $14,532,339 in deferred loans.” That’s $72,300/home purchase.
  • Fees are the city’s best income source, but not by much: Of the department’s $288 million 2016-2017 budget, the biggest contributor was developer fees. But all told those fees still only add up to 21 percent of the total; the next biggest kick-in came from federal assistance at 15 percent, and then money from the city’s general fund and from former SFRA housing assets both contributing 14 percent.

You can read the full report here.