Tour highlights affordable housing neighborhood benefits

Execs from Mission Housing and BRIDGE Housing lead a motorized cable car tour of several San Francisco affordable housing sites. Photo by Tony Bear!

Motorized cable car transports tour group around SF affordable housing sites

Saturday, June 23rd, several people learned first-hand how affordable housing changes neighborhoods, and lives, for the better.

The 20-mile, round-trip, guided tour gave a group of neighbors from the Balboa Reservoir area a first-hand view of the role nonprofit developers play in building, preserving and managing the affordable housing stock of San Francisco.

Moderated by Sam Moss, Mission Housing Development Corporation Executive Director and Kearstin Dischinger, BRIDGE Housing Project Manager and Policy Planner, the tour visited several BRIDGE Housing and Mission Housing properties located throughout San Francisco. Some stops included a brief walking mini-tour. The tour also visited the sites of future Mission Housing developments.

“We are very thankful so many ‘housing secure’ people invested time into learning more about how affordable housing works, who lives in these affordable homes, and the importance of the work we do” said Moss. “The interest and engagement demonstrated was very encouraging, and makes me hopeful that more and more people will advocate to make housing legal, everywhere.”

Tour participants got an in-depth understanding of the successes and challenges facing the San Francisco affordable housing industry. The tour provided a clear understanding what it takes to shelter, stabilize and empower thousands of the most vulnerable San Francisco residents.

“The folks that came along felt they learned a lot and appreciated being able to go in and walk around the developments. They were impressed,” said Rick Williams, of Van Meter Williams Pollack LLP. Williams’ architecture firm designed several of the buildings included in the tour. Williams explained how each of the buildings were designed to fit-in well and add to the quality-of-life and character of their neighborhoods, while providing high-value infrastructure, and quality long-term homes for the residents.

The tour began, and ended, at the Balboa Reservoir, a site owned by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission that is adjacent to City College of San Francisco. The Balboa Reservoir is being developed into mixed-income housing, open space and community amenities. Mission Housing and BRIDGE Housing are two of the nonprofit developers who, along with Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco, will build an estimated 550 units of 100 percent affordable housing on the site.

Mission Housing acquires historic South Park property, the Gran Oriente Hotel

The Gran Oriente Filipino Hotel preserved as 100% affordable housing stock; one of three South Park properties to be rehabilitated

Mission Housing Development Corporation today announced another residential hotel has been added to its South Park portfolio.

The Gran Oriente Filipino Hotel, at 104-106 South Park Street [MAP], is one of the earliest Filipino-owned buildings in the South of Market area of San Francisco. Built in 1907, the Gran Oriente Hotel was acquired by Filipino seamen of the Wor Rizal Lodge #12 Of The Gran Oriente Filipino Masonic fraternity, in the 1920s, for $6,000. The organization owns two other buildings on South Park: a lodge, and a small apartment complex.

The properties are regarded as important assets for the Filipino Cultural Heritage District.

The Gran Oriente is one of three residential hotels in the South Park Historic District. Residential hotels are also known as single-room occupancy hotels, or SROs.

As South of Market property values skyrocketed over the years, the fraternal organization received numerous unsolicited, speculative purchase offers for the Gran Oriente Hotel. Community leaders wondered just how long the building could avoid being “gentrified” — sold on the private market, the units rehabbed and then leased at high rents.

When South of Market community leaders learned of a potential Gran Oriente sale, they began to consider how to keep ownership of the property in community hands, so its affordability would be positioned to survive in perpetuity.

Filipino community members asked San Francisco District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim to facilitate a solution. She connected the organizers and Mission Housing. Supervisor Kim believed Mission Housing — as a nonprofit, community-based affordable housing organization already operating in South Park — was well-qualified to strengthen and ensure the Gran Oriente is protected as permanent affordable housing for future generations.

“The Gran Oriente Hotel is a significant building to the Filipino community in San Francisco and for the South Park neighborhood,” said Supervisor Kim. “It also provides 24 SRO units which provide critical affordable housing for the community.”

“I am honored to have worked with SoMa Pilipinas and Mission Housing over the last two years to facilitate its purchase through the Small Sites Program and ensure it remains a community-owned site.”

In meetings between the leadership of the Filipino Community Development Corporation, the Filipino-American Development Foundation, SOMA Pilipinas, the SOMA Stabilization Fund Community Advisory Committee and Mission Housing representatives, ideas were shared about how to honor the Filipino legacy of the building, and find a current and future co-ownership structure that involves the Filipino community.

The outcome: a Filipino organization will own or co-own the Gran Oriente by 2025.

Until then, Mission Housing will be working with community members on rehabilitating the site, ensuring that all existing tenants remain, and utilizing the site for future community activism and support.

“Mission Housing is proud to partner with the Filipino community to ensure that the Gran Oriente Hotel remains in community hands,” said Sam Moss, Executive Director of Mission Housing. “We will be working with the community to provide tenant education, organizing, and programming of the Gran Oriente as a historic and cultural asset.”

“Leaders from the community, such as the late Steve Arevalo, made certain the Gran Oriente will continue to play a vital role as part of the Filipino Cultural Heritage District of San Francisco.”

Welcome to the Mission Housing South Park family

Mission Housing acquired and rehabbed the other two South Park SROs — The Park View and Hotel Madrid — in 1987. Both provide permanent housing for formerly homeless, special needs, and very low-income adults. Since the renovation, Mission Housing has operated on-site supportive Resident Services programs at both locations.

Adding Gran Oriente’s 24 units to the mix creates efficiencies in overall cash flow, operations and services offered to residents. Which means, soon, the people living at the Gran Oriente will be able to access the same Resident Services provided to other Mission Housing South Park residents.

“Our Resident Services team will be making contact with current Gran Oriente tenants, to learn their needs, so we can make informed decisions about which services will help their quality of life,” said Márcia Contreras, Deputy Executive Director of Mission Housing, and head of the organization’s Resident Services department.

Financing the transaction

Funds for the $4.5 million acquisition and subsequent rehabilitation are being provided by The Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, and its South of Market Community Stabilization Fund.

Ownership change spurs preservation effort

Monies from The SOMA Stabilization Fund, and the City’s Small Sites Program, will also pay for an extensive rehab of the Gran Oriente, to include updating mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and structural features such as the roof; replacing appliances and finishes; adding ADA-accessible units and an interior courtyard; and, bringing the building up to city standards for light, air, fire safety, and egress.

Also included, a moderate rehab for The Park View and Hotel Madrid, which means a total of 106 units of South Park affordable housing will be preserved. Construction should start in late 2019, and finish in April, 2021.

Following the completion of the Gran Oriente’s full rehab, Mission Housing will work with the City Planning Department’s Historic Preservation Commission and SOMA Pilipinas to have the Gran Oriente designated a historic site.

Mission Housing pipeline adds new Balboa Reservoir affordable homes

A rendering from the presentation shown at two June 2017 community workshops, where three developer teams presented their proposals. Source: SF Planning website

San Francisco selects team to develop hundreds of units on huge site near City College; fourth development awarded to Mission Housing since 2015

The San Francisco Planning Department today announced the team of developers charged with bringing hundreds of new homes to the Balboa Reservoir, a 17.7-acre site next to City College of San Francisco.

Mission Housing Development Corporation, along with AvalonBay Communities, BRIDGE Housing Corporation, Habitat for Humanity of Greater San Francisco, and Pacific Union Development Company won the competitive process that began in March, 2017, when teams first submitted their qualifications.

Using city land to create housing

The site is currently owned by the City and County of San Francisco via the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC).

The Balboa Reservoir Development is part of the “Public Land for Housing program,” a collaboration among San Francisco officials to address the City’s housing needs by maximizing the use of City-owned land.

Mission Housing Development Corporation | Balboa Reservoir meeting

June 10, 2017 dozens of community stakeholders pour over proposals to develop housing at the Balboa Reservoir site. Photo by Tony Bear!

The San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) and the Planning Department coordinated the RFP process on behalf of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

After the proposals were submitted last May, each was publicly presented and discussed. The SFPUC accepted the recommendation of the panel which reviewed the proposals — and the public input — submitted.

“The winning proposal does an exceptional job of addressing both San Francisco’s extreme housing need and the community’s vision for the Balboa Reservoir,” said Harlan L. Kelly, Jr., SFPUC General Manager.

According to Ken Rich, SF OEWD Director of Development, the winning team “…brings tremendous experience building quality affordable and mixed-use housing, working thoughtfully with local communities, and successfully tackling large and complex projects.”

Partnerships facilitating affordable housing solutions

Two of the developers chosen have already teamed-up on other San Francisco affordable housing. Mission Housing and BRIDGE Housing expect to break ground on 160 new, 100 percent affordable family units at 1950 Mission Street in a few months.

Several entities on the team have built, or are building, in the Balboa Park area. Mission Housing and partner Related California are making progress on constructing new, 100 percent affordable homes across from the Balboa Park BART station.

Mission Housing will develop and own one or more buildings on the Balboa Reservoir site. Habitat for Humanity will develop affordable for-sale housing.

The co-lead developers of Balboa Reservoir are two of the region’s most prolific developers of apartment communities. AvalonBay and BRIDGE Housing will rely on Mission Housing to take the lead with engaging the community during the next several months. This engagement will refine the proposal for the site.

“Much of what we’re learning during our Balboa Park Upper Yard engagement process was vital in helping us win this new award,” said Sam Moss, Executive Director of Mission Housing. “Our main task over the next several months will be to ensure the people of San Francisco, especially those living in the immediate neighborhood, have a say in how this valuable land will be utilized.”

“Balboa Reservoir will be one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in San Francisco. Our plan encourages a diversity of households and families with a wide range of incomes.”

“We’re proud to see our efforts at bringing new affordable housing to San Francisco pay off,” said Moss. “In our immediate future, Mission Housing will provide quality, 100 percent affordable housing for thousands more people.”

“Our commitment to Balboa Park is for the long term.”

The winning game plan

Mission Housing Development Corporation | Reservoir Park

A 2.2-acre green space, “Reservoir Park” will have direct links to surrounding neighborhoods. Rendering: SF Planning

So far, the winning vision re-purposes the 1,000-space parking lot into a new neighborhood with a 2.2-acre green space at its center. Currently dubbed “Reservoir Park” the green space will have direct links to all the surrounding neighborhoods, to create a welcoming public realm. In total, more than four acres of parks and open spaces are proposed.

The heart of the Balboa Reservoir site is dedicated to walking and biking, with numerous walking routes into and through the site. Pathways will connect to surrounding Ocean Avenue and Westwood Park neighborhoods, and to the City College campus.

Numerous buildings of varied heights will contain townhouses, apartments, and commercial spaces. The developers hope to incorporate as many as 1,100 homes in the plan. A shared 500-slot parking garage — part of more than 12-hundred below grade parking spots included in the proposal — will serve both the City College community and Balboa Reservoir residents.

Other parameters for the development, as stipulated by the Planning Department include:
• an affordable housing target of 50% of units catering to low, moderate, and middle-income households
• collaboration with City College on teacher housing
• inclusion of at least one childcare center

Putting people first

Mission Housing will coordinate the delivery of social services for residents of all income levels throughout the new development, and the entire Balboa Reservoir neighborhood.

“Our extensive experience in cultivating services partnerships will ensure that we can deliver childcare and other benefits that will make this development a great asset to the entire neighborhood,” said Marcía Contreras, Director of Operations and Resident Services for Mission Housing. “We will be in the unique position of programming all the human elements: social services, the recreation at the parks, and the community-serving nonprofits.”

“The input we get from our outreach will help us design and mold a perfect mix to enhance the quality-of-life for every one of our community stakeholders.”

Engineered for deep sustainability

The Balboa Reservoir team also includes Van Meter Williams Pollack and Pyatok as the master plan architects, ensuring the neighborhood “fit” of the development, and directing a community-based design approach. The master plan architects will oversee other architecture firms that will design individual buildings on the parcel, ensuring an appropriate diversity of styles and ideas in a harmonious master plan.

All aspects of the development’s design will be guided by the principles of the EcoDistrict model, to enhance livability, and to reduce the environmental footprint of Balboa Reservoir for generations to come.

READ MORE: Proposal submitted

READ MORE: Presentation to community groups

Leaders highlight Excelsior development, urge grand bargain on affordable housing bills

Mission Housing Development Corporation Executive Director Sam Moss (left) watches as San Francisco Supervisor Ahsha Safaí makes comments at a rally encouraging California lawmakers to pass comprehensive legislation that prioritizes affordable housing statewide. Looking on are California Assemblymember Phil Ting (center), Senator Scott Wiener and Marcía Contreras, Director of Operations and Resident Services for Mission Housing. Photo by Tony Bear!

Work to turn Balboa Park parking lot into 100 units of affordable housing could begin sooner if state legislature reaches agreement on affordable housing bills

California Assemblymember Phil Ting and Senator Scott Wiener today joined San Francisco Supervisor Ahsha Safaí and more than 30 community members, workers and Excelsior District residents to support a proposal to turn the two-acre Balboa Park Upper Yard parking lot next to the Balboa Park BART station into 100 units of much-needed affordable housing.

Speakers also called upon Governor Jerry Brown and state legislators to approve a comprehensive package of affordable housing bills as soon as Sacramento leaders return from their summer recess on August 21, which they said will help projects such as the Balboa Park Upper Yard.

“State proposals to increase both short- and long-term affordable housing funding, and prioritize affordable housing for expedited permitting could help accelerate groundbreaking at the parking lot by up to six months,” said Mission Housing Development Corporation Executive Director Sam Moss. Mission Housing is building Balboa Park Upper Yard with co-developer Related California. “When this process begins, soon we can be housing people instead of cars, and making San Francisco neighborhoods better.”

The Balboa Park Upper Yard development is located in the districts of all three elected officials who spoke at this morning’s rally. The development will provide homes to low-income families struggling to survive on-going San Francisco housing crisis. Also included in the apartments: a child care facility, community-serving commercial spaces, and a public park. There will also be improvements to the Balboa Park BART station plaza.

“Housing costs are fueling inequality by uprooting families and reducing access to high-wage jobs of the future. Across California, families overpay for housing or commute great distances from housing they can afford,” said Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco). “When the Legislature reconvenes later this month, we are energized to reach a grand bargain on affordable housing. Our success will decide whether projects like the Upper Yard are routine or a novel anomaly.”

“California’s housing crisis is deep and threatens our economy, environment, and quality of life,” said Senator Scott Wiener, who has authored a bill to streamline housing approvals. “We need to make it easier to create housing at all income levels, and we must create sustained funding for affordable housing. The State needs to step up and be part of the solution.”

“The building of 100 units of affordable housing in District 11 is a harbinger of my and the City’s commitment to securing housing for working families,” said Supervisor Ahsha Safai. “The fast-tracking of permits for new, affordable family housing, undoubtedly, will help the city keep the families it so desperately needs.”

Supervisor Safaí has only recently completed his first six months in office, but he has already delivered significant affordable housing investments for the residents of District 11 neighborhoods such as the Excelsior, Outer Mission, and Ocean View/Merced Heights/Ingleside. Earlier this year, Sup. Safaí led efforts at the Board of Supervisors to craft, and win unanimous approval for, what has become the strongest inclusionary housing ordinance in the country, complete with housing requirements for working class and middle income families.

Assemblymember David Chiu, who represents the district that begins just blocks east of the Balboa Park Upper Yard, sent the following statement: “California is in the midst of an intense housing crisis. The legislature must act on housing to ensure Balboa Park Upper Yard and projects like it across the state can get built quickly and begin to house Californians.”

“When the legislature passes a comprehensive Affordable Housing Bill Package, Mission Housing will able to expand the type of high quality services the residents and community of Balboa Park deserve,” said Marcía Contreras, Director of Operations and Resident Services for Mission Housing.

Many of those who came out this morning stand to benefit from more projects such as the Balboa Park Upper Yard, especially if state officials deliver on their pledge to pass a comprehensive package of affordable housing bills. Supporters at today’s rally included neighborhood residents eagerly awaiting to apply for a home, housing advocates pushing for more housing across all income levels throughout California, and union construction workers hoping to work on a development that they could one day live in.

READ ALSO: Dozens give input on Balboa Park Upper Yard development