Co-ops save some San Francisco residents from foreclosure 

click to enlarge The San Francisco Community Land Trust hopes to keep affordable housing in San Francisco with cooperative living arrangements.
  • The San Francisco Community Land Trust hopes to keep affordable housing in San Francisco with cooperative living arrangements.

A local nonprofit says a new model based on a cooperative living arrangement could help save some low-income residents from eviction or foreclosure.

The San Francisco Community Land Trust is starting small, having bought only two properties since it formed in 2003 — a 21-unit apartment building in Chinatown scheduled for demolition, and a home near Alamo Square that was headed for a foreclosure auction last month. The group is now looking to add another home in the Western Addition.

Land Trust Director Tracy Parent believes her community-owned and -operated group could make the difference for some of San Francisco’s housing collectives, unique San Francisco arrangements that have been around for decades. Their numbers are waning, and Parent estimated that about 20 such communities remain.

In April, with the help of a socially minded bank and individual lenders, the Land Trust paid $875,000 to buy a home at 966 Oak St., where 10 collective members live. The property’s previous owners had stopped paying the mortgage while trying to sell the property.

The new 99-year lease now requires that 966 Oak be used for affordable housing, while letting the collective own and manage the building. Parent said residents pay about $700 a month, including utilities, insurance, property taxes and interest on short-term loans.

The group of men and women from their 20s to their 60s includes artists, retail and food industry workers, and people with disabilities. Resident Val Sinckler said the community had been in place for more than 40 years.
Olson Lee, director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing, praised the trust’s work as important to preserving “economic diversity” in The City.

“This is such an expensive place, so the loss of any affordable housing is always a huge loss, not only to the residents, but to The City as a whole,” Lee said.

aburack@sfexaminer.com

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