Funding for building middle- and low-income housing at risk 

click to enlarge Cracks in the foundation of development finance are threatening the creation of new affordable housing for families, seniors, people with disabilities and other San Franciscans. - PHOTOS.COM
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  • Cracks in the foundation of development finance are threatening the creation of new affordable housing for families, seniors, people with disabilities and other San Franciscans.

Cracks in the foundation of development finance are threatening the creation of new affordable housing for families, seniors, people with disabilities and other San Franciscans.

Development experts are hopeful that planned funding initiatives can sustain some local projects. But if not, the industry could be in trouble.

Redevelopment agencies in California, which provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to affordable housing projects, will close up shop Feb. 1. Their death means that cities and developers must find other funding or risk a decline in how much new housing they produce.

The funding loss follows on the heals of declining federal Housing and Urban Development funding, which many developers qualified for through the Mayor’s Office of Housing.

Affordable housing developers rely heavily on public funds for the early parts of their projects. Among the local projects that benefited from redevelopment funding were Valencia Gardens, a 246-unit family and senior housing facility, and Rich Sorro Commons, a 100-unit building in the Mission Bay Project Area for families and residents with HIV/AIDS.

Not only do developers stand to lose the early funding, but they could have more difficulty attracting other investors without early support from the redevelopment agency, said Del Carlo, whose organization creates housing for families, seniors, people with disabilities and people with HIV/AIDS.

“Some may just say, ‘Hey we’re going to stand our ground and if the ship goes down, we’re going down,’”  said Larry Del Carlo, president of Mission Housing Development Corporation.

Developers hope it doesn’t come to that. The end of affordable housing in San Francisco would also be the end of a diverse community according to Cynthia Parker, chief executive officer of Bridge Housing Corporation, which develops housing for families and seniors.

“Over time, it would start to look much less family-oriented, much less senior-oriented. It would start to look a lot less diverse and a lot more monochromatic,” Parker said. “And that’s not the kind of city we want, I don’t think.”

Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved a measure to continue to fund major redevelopment projects already in the pipeline. Mayor Ed Lee has established the Housing Trust Fund Work Group, tasked with drafting a ballot measure that would establish a permanent revenue source for affordable housing projects.

“It definitely calls the question of, ‘How are we going to continue to do redevelopment in The City? And how are going to be creative about that?’” said Gail Gilman, executive director of Community Housing Partnership, which provides housing for the homeless population.

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Sarah Gantz

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